Lawrence Wiliford made his debut with Pacific Opera Victoria in April 2008, playing the role of Leo in the Canadian première of Marc Blitzstein's Regina. He returned in February 2013 for the title role in Britten's Albert Herring. In 2016 he performs Francis Flute in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, a role he has previously performed with the Canadian Opera Company.
Lauded for his luminous projection, lyrical sensitivity, and brilliant coloratura, American-born Canadian tenor Lawrence Wiliford is in high demand in concert, opera, and recital repertoire ranging from works by Monteverdi to contemporary composers. His performances during the 2015/16 season include Messiah with the Detroit and National Symphony Orchestras, Elijah with the Grand Philharmonic Choir, Mozart's Mass in C Minor with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, as well as his return to POV as Flute in A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Operatic highlights from recent seasons include his Canadian Opera Company leading role debut as Ferrando in Così fan tutte on five hours' notice. Also with the Canadian Opera Company he has appeared as 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 Opera Lyra Ottawa as Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia; with Aldeburgh Music as 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; and with Boston Baroque in the title role of Rameau's Pygmalion and Myrtil in Rameau's La Guirlande.
Mr. Wiliford's concert engagements encompass the major symphony orchestras and early music groups in the US and Canada. Recent concert appearances include Handel's Messiah with the Rochester Philharmonic, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Toronto Symphony, and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra; the Evangelist in the St. Matthew Passion with the Calgary Philharmonic, Orchestre Métropolitain, and Toronto Bach Consort; Mass in B minor with Music of the Baroque, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica Naciónal de Mexico, Oregon Bach Festival and Toronto Symphony Orchestra; the Evangelist in the St. John Passion with the Orquesta Sinfónica Naciónal de Costa Rica; Mozart's Requiem with Tafelmusik and the National Arts Centre Orchestra; Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with I Musici de Montréal and Niagara Symphony; Haydn's Elijah with the Handel and Haydn Society and Colorado Symphony; Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 at the Oregon Bach Festival; Mozart's Requiem with the Indianapolis Symphony, Tafelmusik and the National Arts Centre Orchestra; Beethoven's Mass in C Major with the Houston Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra; Bach's Christmas Oratorio and Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass with the National Arts Centre Orchestra; and Stravinsky's Pulcinella with the Houston Symphony.
Mr. Wiliford has collaborated with conductors such as Richard Bradshaw, Matthew Halls, Jane Glover, Nicholas Kraemer, Nicholas McGegan, John Nelson, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Peter Oundijan, Trevor Pinnock, Helmuth Rilling, and Pinchas Zukerman. He has been recognized in particular for his interpretation of Bach and other composers of the Baroque period and is a champion of English and North American art song, a passion that has led to engagements across North America and at the Aldeburgh Festival in England. Mr. Wiliford has been involved in a number of world première performances that include works by Benjamin Britten, Derek Holman, James Rolfe, John Greer and others.
His recorded projects appear on the ATMA Classique, Centrediscs, and Naxos labels and include J.S. Bach's Johannes-Passion under the direction of Alex Weimann, Ash Roses, songs by Canadian composer Derek Holman, and his debut solo recording Divine Musick: the late works for tenor and harp by Benjamin Britten.
Mr. Wiliford holds a Bachelor of Music in Church Music from St. Olaf College and a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Toronto. He has studied at Tanglewood, the Internationale Bachakademie of Stuttgart, the Steans Institute at the Ravinia Festival, and the Britten-Pears Young Artist Program. Mr. Wiliford 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.
Born in Muskegon, Michigan, Mr. Wiliford became a member of the American Boychoir School in Princeton, New Jersey, at the age of 10. 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.
Audio Excerpts from Lawrence Wiliford's CDs.
By turns, lyrical, longing, angry and confused, Lawrence Wiliford was supremely accomplished as Albert Herring. A luscious tenorávoice and a gentle but not stupid persona kept him the focus of attention.
Elizabeth Paterson, Review Vancouver, Review of Pacific Opera Victoria's Albert Herring, 2013
Tenor Lawrence Wiliford, a highly expressive lyric tenor with considerable experience singing Britten, is both funny and touching as Albert in his many moods (submissive, yearning, frustrated, defiant, drunk, liberated), and his big arias are triumphs of vocal virtuosity, characterization and musical sensitivity.
Kevin Bazzana, Times Colonist, Review of Pacific Opera Victoria's Albert Herring, 2013
The musicianship on this disc is extraordinary ... [Wiliford has] become a sensitive and expressive singer, with a supple and beautiful instrument that seems always to do his bidding.
Erick Lichte, Stereophile Magazine, Review of CD Divine Musick: the late works for tenor and harp by Benjamin Britten
Lawrence Wiliford ů brought a clear, nicely projected voice to Benjamin Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, Op. 31. Already a specialist on Britten with his recent ATMA release on the composer's songs accompanied by harpist Jennifer Swartz, the Serenade suited Wiliford's voice, evoking memories of Peter Pears, for whom the work was originally composed.
Wah Keung Chan, Montreal Gazette