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.
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
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.”
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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