'Tis Nature's Voice: Ode on St. Cecilia’s Day (Henry Purcell)
Lawrence Wiliford, tenor
Lucas Harris, lute
Lauded for his luminous projection, lyrical sensitivity, and brilliant coloratura, American-Canadian tenor Lawrence Wiliford is in high demand in concert, opera, and recital repertoire. In 2021-22, Mr. Wiliford appeared in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Mozart’s Requiem with Calgary Philharmonic and Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, Op. 31 with Hamilton Philharmonic. In 2022-23, he will join both the Houston Symphony and National Arts Centre Orchestra for Messiah, return to Early Music Vancouver for selections by Schütz and perform Bach’s B minor Mass with the Grand Philharmonic Choir.
Mr. Wiliford’s 2019-20 season highlights included performances of Mozart’s Requiem with the Eugene Symphony and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (under Masaaki Suzuki), Handel’s Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day with the Back Bay Chorale and Messiah with the Rochester Philharmonic. He was also set to perform Bach’s St. John Passion with Florida Orchestra, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Hamilton Philharmonic, Beethoven’s Mass in C major with Orchestre symphonique de Québec and Considering Matthew Shepard with Pax Christi Chorale (all canceled due to COVID19).
In recent seasons, Mr. Wiliford performed Mozart’s Requiem with Hamilton Philharmonic, ProMusica Chamber Orchestra of Columbus, and the Milwaukee Symphony (under Matthew Halls); Messiah with the Tucson Symphony, Naples Philharmonic, Phoenix Symphony, and Philadelphia Orchestra (under Nathalie Stutzmann); Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra; Bach’s St John Passion with Grand Philharmonic Choir; Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with Luminous Voices in Calgary; Elgar’s The Apostles with the Pax Christi Chorale. He also made an exciting return to the Aldeburgh Festival as Flute in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Additional concert appearances of note include Handel’s Messiah with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony, Naples Philharmonic, Louisiana Philharmonic, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony, and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. He has sung the Evangelist in St. Matthew Passion with the Calgary Philharmonic, Orchestre Métropolitain, and Toronto Bach Consort; Mass in B-minor with the Louisiana Philharmonic, Music of the Baroque, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica Naciónal de Mexico, Oregon Bach Festival, Toronto Symphony, and Vancouver Chamber Choir; the Evangelist in St. John Passion with the Orquesta Sinfónica Naciónal de Costa Rica; Mozart’s Requiem with the Indianapolis Symphony, Tafelmusik, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra; Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with I Musici de Montréal; Elijah with the Colorado Symphony; Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 at the Oregon Bach Festival; Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the National Arts Center Orchestra; and Beethoven’s Mass in C-major and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella with the Houston Symphony.
Operatic highlights include making his Canadian Opera Company debut as Ferrando in Mozart’s Così fan tutte on five hours’ notice, to great acclaim. He has additionally appeared with the Canadian Opera Company as Francis Flute in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Roy in James Rolfe’s Swoon. He has performed with Toronto’s Opera Atelier as Belmonte and Pedrillo in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Damon in Acis and Galatea, Mercure in Lully’s Persée, and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni; with Toronto Masque Theatre as the title role in Acis and Galatea; with Aldeburgh Music as Peter Quint in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw; with Vancouver Opera in the title role of Albert Herring; with Edmonton Opera as Frederic in The Pirates of Penzance and Pedrillo in Die Entführung aus dem Serail; with Pacific Opera Victoria in the title role of Albert Herring and Leo in the Canadian premiere of Mark Blitzstein’s Regina; and with MusicFest Vancouver and Boston Baroque in the title role of Rameau’s Pygmalion.
Mr. Wiliford has collaborated with esteemed conductors including Jane Glover, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Bernard Labadie, Masaaki Suzuki, Nathalie Stutzmann, Matthew Halls, Nicholas McGegan, John Nelson, Peter Oundjian, Trevor Pinnock, Helmuth Rilling, and Pinchas Zukerman. His recorded projects appear on several labels and include a GRAMMY nominated and JUNO award-winning recording of music by Vaughan Williams with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Peter Oundjian (Chandos); J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion under the direction of Alex Weimann (ATMA Classique); a program of late works for tenor and harp by Benjamin Britten (ATMA Classique); and sacred songs by Edmund Rubbra, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst (Stone Records). He is also a featured soloist on the 2020 JUNO nominated recording of Zachary Wadsworth’s oratorio When There is Peace by Chor Leoni Men’s Choir.
Mr. Wiliford holds a Bachelor of Music in Church Music from St. Olaf College, a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Arts in Media Production from Toronto Metropolitan University. He studied at Tanglewood, the Internationale Bachakademie of Stuttgart, the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival, and the Britten-Pears Young Artist Program. He is a graduate of the Canadian Opera Company's Ensemble Studio and is a recipient of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. In addition to his performing schedule, Mr. Wiliford is co-artistic director of the Canadian Art Song Project. While a student at St. Olaf College, he sang with the St. Olaf Choir, became a published choral arranger, and was one of the founding members of the male vocal chamber ensemble Cantus, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.