Ryan Hofman is a baritone who is rapidly becoming more and more in demand in the opera and choral scene in Ottawa and further afield. Freshly returned from two years out west and in preparation for the Brian Law Opera Competition, Classical Ottawa asked him about what else he has coming up, as well as about his musical experience.
CO: Before we hear about your career so far, you have the Brian Law Opera Competition coming up on 14th October. Can you tell something about how you became a finalist, and what the competition means to you?
Ryan: Actually, come to think of it, I was in Teplice, Czech Republic in my hotel room when I received the email about becoming a finalist.
I think this competition is great for the Ottawa community and singers who have some sort of connection with the Nation’s Capital. As a young emerging artist, I am so grateful for an opportunity such as this one.
CO: And what do you know about your competition? I know, for instance, you have worked with your friend Jeanine Williams (who we have featured previously on CO)
Ryan: What I know is that all of the competition is incredible. I actually know 4 of 5 the other finalists and went to uOttawa with Carolyn (Beaudoin) and Joel Allison, who are both doing remarkably well right now.
I have also had the chance to hear Jeanine and Danielle as well. The fact that 40 something singers applied and that I am in the finals with so many phenomenal singers, it will be such an honour to share the stage with them.
CO: Okay, well best of luck on 14th October! (Full details below if you want to go along and hear Ryan!)
Looking back now, can you tell us a little bit about your musical journey?
Ryan: I began my studies at uOttawa in 2008 after meeting Ingemar Korjus and Sandra Graham through Ontario Youth Choir. During my last two years of high school actually, my family and I would drive up to Ottawa every few months to Ottawa for lessons. Upon finishing my studies in 2014, I continued working with Christiane Riel but decided I needed to get out of Ottawa and see what was out there. It was lessons with a mentor of mine and dear friend, James Westman in March 2015, that helped motivate myself in going out west to work with J. Patrick Raftery.
It was here that I really was able to hone and polish my craft with acting classes and coachings with Nancy Hermiston, David Boothroyd and Richard Epp. It is because of my time at the University of British Columbia and the faculty that I feel so much more well-rounded.
CO: What did you find different about studying and performing on the west coast, as opposed to Ottawa or elsewhere?
Ryan: I found the opera program at UBC to be very intense, as it was run similiar to that of a German opera studio. As a result we were constantly busy with performing either at the school or within the community, especially with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. We also had three operas each season, two with professional orchestra with each February opera taking place at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts with the UBC Symphony Orchestra.
The weather in Vancouver was absolutely beautiful (except for the 5 months of rain!!!!); this certainly made it easier to live and study out there. Definitely not as hot or cold as Ottawa weather!
CO: How do you find the Ottawa opera scene? What’s the future?
Ryan: With the demise of Opera Lyra, it has unfortunately taken a bit of a hit but there are companies such Pellegrini Opera and SOPAC that I believe are taking steps to making Opera much more prevalent in the Capital.
The only way for opera to survive in the Capital is for people to come out and support it, which is why the Brian Law Competition is also such a great avenue for listeners, new and old, alike.
CO: How far do you think you can go in Ottawa, and do you see yourself moving away in the future in order to pursue further ambitions?
Ryan: Right now, I am enjoying my time back in Ottawa. This year has been a transitional one for me but I may end up staying here, who knows.
I am fortunate enough to working over the next few months (including an upcoming Faure Requiem with the Cantata Singers of Ottawa and Jeanine Williams on November 4th at 8pm at St. Joe’s and Nov. 11th with Southminister United and Isabelle Lacroix, plus a few other engagements)
Depending on how YAP auditions pan out, I could be here for a year, two years, or less. Ah, the life of a musician.
You can hear Ryan at the Brian Law Opera Competition on 14th October. Full details can be found here.