Lawrence Wiliford

Lawrence Wiliford

“Wiliford was a constant source of wonder.... Vocally, he coped with the fiendishly difficult and high-lying tessitura with consummate skill. He deployed a palette of colours, a range of dynamic variation and a linguistic and verbal clarity rarely encountered.”
Bach ST MATTHEW PASSION (Orchestre Métropolitain)

Richard Turp, Bachtrack

Representation: Europe & Sundry Territories


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. Lawrence has collaborated with conductors such as Jane Glover, Matthew Halls, Nicholas McGegan, Helmuth Rilling, and has been involved in a number of world premiere performances featuring works by Derek Holman, James Rolfe, John Greer, Marjan Mozetich, Norbert Palej, Erik Ross and Zachary Wadsworth.


Full Biography

Lauded for his luminous projection, lyrical sensitivity, and brilliant coloratura, American-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 2016-2017 Season will include a debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra performing Handel’s Messiah under Nathalie Stutzmann. Other engagements include Mozart’s Requiem with the Milwaukee Symphony under Matthew Halls, Messiah with the Tucson Symphony and Naples Philharmonic, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with Luminous Voices in Calgary, Elgar’s The Apostles with the Pax Christi Chorale, and a return to the Aldeburgh Festival for performances of ‘Flute’ in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Lawrence Wiliford’s concert engagements encompass the major symphony orchestras and early music groups in the US and Canada. His recent concert appearances include Handel’s Messiah with the Detroit Symphony, National Symphony, Naples Philharmonic, Louisiana Philharmonic, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony, Toronto Symphony, and Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra; the Evangelist in St. Matthew Passion with the Calgary Philharmonic, Orchestre Métropolitain, and Toronto Bach Consort; Mass in B-minor with the Louisiana Philharmonic, Music of the Baroque, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfónica Naciónal de Mexico, Oregon Bach Festival, Toronto Symphony, and Vancouver Chamber Choir; the Evangelist in St. John Passion with the Orquesta Sinfónica Naciónal de Costa Rica; Mozart’s Requiem with the Indianapolis Symphony, Tafelmusik, and the National Arts Centre Orchestra; Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with I Musici de Montréal; Elijah with the Colorado Symphony; Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 at the Oregon Bach Festival; Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Haydn’s Nelson Mass with the National Arts Center Orchestra; and Beethoven’s Mass in C-Major and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella with the Houston Symphony.

Operatic highlights from recent seasons include making his Canadian Opera Company leading role debut in Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte as Ferrando on five hours’ notice. Also with the Canadian Opera Company he has appeared as Francis Flute in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Roy in James Rolfe’s Swoon. He has also 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 Toronto Masque Theatre as the title role in Acis and Galatea; 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; with Pacific Opera Victoria in the title role of Albert Herring and Leo in the Canadian premiere of Mark Blitzstein’s Regina; and with MusicFest Vancouver and Boston Baroque in the title role of Rameau’s Pygmalion.

Mr. Wiliford has collaborated with conductors Jane Glover, Matthew Halls, Nicholas McGegan, John Nelson, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Peter Oundijan, Trevor Pinnock, Helmuth Rilling, and Pinchas Zukerman. He has recorded projects on the ATMA Classique and NAXOS labels, such as St. John Passion with Les Voix Baroques and the Arion Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Alex Weimann; 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.


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Promoters please note: if you wish to include this biography in a concert programme etc, please contact Hazard Chase to ensure that you receive the most up to date version.  Email: Evie Parker



‘O Gladsome Light’ [CD Stone Records 2017]

‘[Holst’s] Four Songs for Voice and Violin are haunting, with a sound that could be from any place, at any time. The simplicity of combining voice and strings – the purity of the harmonies and of Wiliford’s assured tone – feels like a nod to a very old tradition.[…] Throughout this album, Wiliford’s sound is strong yet gentle, always thoughtful. O Gladsome Light is a carefully crafted album that shows the tenor’s constant attention to detail, from the research and curation of this inspired collection of repertoire, to the music-making itself.’

Jenna Simeonov, Schmopera (February 2018)

‘That tenor Lawrence Wiliford’s voice is perfectly suited to English repertoire is clearly illustrated on this recording. In songs and hymns by Gustav Holst, his lesser-known student Edmund Rubbra and contemporary Ralph Vaughan Williams, Wiliford displays his gift for expressiveness, sensitivity to text and challengingly high tessitura.’

Dianne Wells, The Whole Note (31 October 2017)

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“This Canadian tenor has the kind of voice that could convince rock ‘n’ roll fans to give Art Song and even opera a fair shake”.

World Magazine (December 2017)


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Handel MESSIAH (The Philadelphia Orchestra)

“Best of all was tenor Lawrence Wiliford: a lithe, clear, perfect-for-Handel voice; vivid response to each line of word and music; ornaments, timing and delivery ideally scaled and calibrated.”

— Matthew Westphal, The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Mozart REQUIEM (Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra)

“Wiliford brought a present, focused, expressive tenor sound to the piece, along with an enormous reserve of power.”

— Elaine Schmidt, Journal Sentinel

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Rossini PETITE MESSE SOLENNELLE (Luminous Voices)

“…Lawrence Williford’s smooth, elegant tenor, yet another memorable Calgary performance from the artistically sophisticated Williford.”

— Kenneth Delong, Calgary Herald

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Discography & Repertoire

Zachary Wadsworth: The Far West

The text for “The Far West” comes from the poetry of Tim Dlugos, set to music by Zachary Wadsworth 2014. The resulting cantata, The Far West, effectively channels the raw emotions of Dlugos.


Derek Holman: Ash Roses

Holman: Ash Roses by Lawrence Wiliford, Sanya Eng, Mireille Asselin and liz Upchurch


Artist Manager

Sue Nicholls (Cambridge)
01223 706023

Assistant Artist Manager

Evie Parker (Cambridge)
01223 706414