Laurier Winners at 2022 Centre Stage Competition, November 3, 2022

It was a big night for us at Laurier at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, as 3 of the finalists were graduates of our voice program, and every single one of them took home prizes. Hannah Crawford (BMus 2021) won 2nd prize (that’s her in the centre of the photo with the big grin!), and River Guard (Barber studio alum, BMus 2017, OpDip 2018) and Wesley Harrison (BMus 2020) shared 3rd prize. It was thrilling to be there for their big moment, and our current students and alumni (and faculty and friends) came out in full force to support these young artists as they demonstrated their growing confidence and artistry. How far they have all come since leaving our Laurier community!

I’m always a little hesitant to use the word “proud”, because it has a whiff of ownership to it (and maybe even feels a bit patronizing?). But how else to describe the feeling I had, sitting in that beautiful theatre with the tremendous COC Orchestra playing in support of these three emerging artists as they experienced their most recent Big Moment in the spotlight? Of particular goose-bumpiness was listening to and watching River Guard–that young, naive and earnest 18-year-old I remember from his Laurier audition–step into his own with poise, commitment and the full-throated, full-hearted voice that I had always heard in my head from the moment I first set eyes on him, through our intense two years (his final years in our program) of work as he began to discover the fullness of his voice (and his person) and now to this defining moment. It was a night to remember.

It was beautiful to hear the lovely Hannah own her moment as well–to remember the ambitious but green young singer she was and see how she has come full circle to begin to truly own the space that is rightfully hers. And Wesley has also grown tremendously in grace and unique artistry. These are the moments to celebrate, as young artists begin to spread their wings and start to soar. The art of Becoming. Congratulations!