Wednesday, January 7, 2009


I once knew Ben Heppner. Now he is a 2002 Officer of the Order of Canada and he would not remember me. He would be gracious about it, but really, after travelling the world and singing with operatic greats and dining with dignitaries, trust me, he does not know me. It was 1985 and he was in his late twenties when I knew him and he sang a hymn in my Toronto church. Ben had already completed his undergrad work at University of British Columbia and gained national attention in 1979 as the winner of the Canadian Broadcasting Company Talent Festival. Then in 1988 he was the winner of the Metropolitan Opera auditions and that was the beginning of his rise. He is both a Grammy Award winner and a Juno Award recipient. He is recognized worldwide as the finest dramatic tenor before the public today.

I am writing about him now because he is an example of following one’s passion. In fact one of my artistic mentors is Robert Genn who sends a twice weekly inspirational newsletter. The other day to illustrate his piece on artistic passion he quoted Ben Heppner. I was even more surprised by the quotation Genn chose. "Figure out what you're passionate about. If you're not passionate about something, go find it. We do not need more unengaged boring people to inhabit this planet."

The comment is stimulating counsel.
Passion can be expressed as a feeling of unusual excitement, enthusiasm or compelling emotion towards a subject, idea, person, or object. Synonyms may be words like ardor, fervor, fire, zeal. Presently I believe that my art is giving God pleasure. He after all is the Creator. I believe my writing will give God pleasure too. I want to follow this through to a conclusion just as I followed my passion to be a spiritual guide and leader and shepherd and preacher for forty years.

Please listen to CBC’s documentary of Ben Heppner singing Nessun Dorma from the opera La Traviata.

If you are want a full biography see this Encyclopedia of Music Canada.

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