Hannah Piercey (Baker’s Wife) & Roland Kessler (Baker), Opera Laurier, Into the Woods 2024 (photo by @kaelaboschcaptures)

I don’t often single out individual students in this column, but every now and again, it’s important to acknowledge significant achievements. Our Opera Laurier production of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Into the Woods opens this weekend, and although I consider the entire class to be “my students”, several of my studio voice students are participating, some of them in their graduating year. So it’s a special time: a time to review the path they’ve charted, take stock, remember where they’ve come from, look forward to the future, but most importantly, be completely aware in the present moment and revel in it. Hannah and Roland (pictured here) are at different points in both their personal journey with me and their respective vocal paths. Roland has worked with me over the past four years, and Hannah completed her BMus with my colleague Jennie Such, working with me just this year in her Opera Diploma. Thus, my story with Roland is longer than the one with Hannah, although I have certainly been alongside her on her academic road during her time at Laurier.

What must be said here, is that these two young artists have worked hard on their craft and have taken every nugget offered them, brought it to the practice room and rehearsal hall, and “woodshedded” to enable them to get to a place where they are beginning to truly blossom. It was enormously moving and gratifying for me to witness their burgeoning confidence and self-actualization in Tuesday’s dress rehearsal, where suddenly all the work we had done manifested in full-blooded characters on stage, both vocally and physically. There is a moment when a student is fully fledged and ready to fly, and we never know when that moment will arrive. But these two young singers demonstrated that they are ready to flower into whatever artist they are meant to be. Of course, the road is long, and this is just the beginning. But truly, this is what growth after hard and diligent work looks like.