Quills Quotes & Notes: Articles and Stories by Rosemary Phillips


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Michael Hope - Canadian Baritone, Pops Vocalist


Love Changes Everything

An interview article by Rosemary Phillips, November 2002

INTRO 2012: Canadian pops vocalist Michael Hope was preparing for the performance of his new program “Love Changes Everything” when this interview article was written. His choice of music and his concerns for world peace and harmony continue to be perfect and inspiring during this time of global uncertainty.

Michael Hope
Canadian singer Michael Hope feels really blessed. “Here I am, sitting in a warm room, having a cup of coffee, and talking on the phone.”

The subject of discussion was his upcoming pops performance “Love Changes Everything” with the Vancouver Island Symphony and Maestro Marlin Wolfe’s seasonal theme of Perfect Harmony. “The world may never be perfect but we have to have the vision of perfection and harmony. The dissonance of wartime makes the harmony of peace all the more beautiful. The perfect world would be with no dissonance but the fact that we’ve had it for centuries sure makes everyday problems, like finding a parking space, seem really trivial.”

Michael Hope and the sounds of Frank Sinatra

Michael, who is described as having an astonishingly beautiful baritone voice, is really excited about his new program. For the last number of years he has been focusing on the sounds of Broadway and some of Frank Sinatra’s favourites, using his own unique style and now he has created a show that brings together songs that are really important to him. “I love this niche of pop music,” he explained. “I wanted a program to meet my needs of peace. There’s nothing like music to make you feel good, like everything is going to be OK.”

While explaining how the program presents the image of a world community Michael asked, “Do you know ‘One Song’ by Marvin Hamlisch?” and he began singing in his early morning voice, “One song of love, one song of peace, imagine what tomorrow would bring if we all sang one song…” (That’s one of the benefits of this kind of journalism - getting serenaded to on the phone.)
“Those lyrics capture what I want to give to people. There are songs about being brave and being courageous in an uncertain world, using the gifts we are given, particularly love.”

Michael draws upon his deepest reserves of optimism for this concert. “There’s a Silver Lining Medley,” he added. “And of course Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Love Changes Everything’ and music from Man of La Mancha.”

Singing hasn’t always been his main focus. In 1990 he put down his bassoon and performed in front of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra for a tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein, and he hasn’t looked back. “What I really enjoy is getting up and singing with my instrumental colleagues. I play in an orchestra for a living, so I know what it’s like. With singing your instrument is inside your body, so the actual physical sensation of singing, when everything is going right, is wonderful. The great thing is that you have this communicative tool - words. The feeling is in the language which touches everybody.”

Michael Hope sings songs of hope

And Michael sings songs that touch him, songs of hope. Interesting that his surname is the same. “I’m 100% Chinese Canadian born in Toronto,” he explained. “My ancestors came to Canada and settled in Victoria. Wo Hop was the actual family name. It means something beautiful. My grandfather expanded the family tailoring business into two - Wo Tailors and Hop Tailors. The folks who ran Hop Tailors became known as Hope and the name stuck.”

Having some form of music in life is important for Chinese culture. “My mother gave me a choice. I got piano lessons when I was six, but I couldn’t handle the practicing. In grade four I started with the clarinet, then the bassoon and things took off from there. My father, who was an engineer, would have preferred I had done something more academic but he’s very proud of me.”

Meanwhile, Michael has a new toy - a computer program that helps him with his symphonic productions and arrangements. “Now I can customize the songs,” he explained. “I’m really into the creating right now, which usually happens at 2 a.m. when the kids are asleep.” And speaking of his children, Michael adds, “They are really excited about Halloween right now. I was explaining to them that my favourite holiday is Remembrance Day because it gives me a perspective on how good my life is, and how bad it has been for many in the last century so that we can enjoy such things as Halloween.”

"Silent Night"

In return for the goodness in his life he gives with his voice, and through his latest CD of Christmas songs “Silent Night” he is donating part of the proceeds to the Mustard Seed Ministry in Calgary to provide homeless people with a meal on Christmas Day.

More information about his CDs, repertoire, biography, and performing schedule can be obtained by visiting Michael Hope's web site.

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Copyright Rosemary Phillips, Quills Quotes & Notes Enterprises, 2013
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