Tenor Eric Ferring is an up-and-coming young opera singer with a strong connection to his personal sense of purpose or soul mission. He was a student of my husband, opera director Johnathon Pape, while pursuing his master’s degree at the Boston Conservatory. Soon after completing his graduate studies, Eric’s career began to take off. He has remained in close touch with Johnathon as one of his mentors.

Eric was 23 years old when, as a part of his study with Johnathon, he crafted his life purpose or soul mission statement:

I inspire action as a passionate creative force.

Now 27, Eric recently wrote an inspiring short essay about how his purpose shapes his understanding of his role in the world—as a singer, as an artist, as a human being. I was so moved by what Eric wrote that I asked his permission to share the essay with you. It’s also a beautiful follow-up to last week’s article on how purpose can help us navigate uncertain times.

However, a bit of background before we get to his essay. Because this story is actually about both Eric and Johnathon, and how two men from two generations make a difference every day.

Johnathon is a master at helping his students develop their technique and craft as strong singer-actors. There are many things that make his teaching unique. Yet perhaps one of the most important is his understanding that having an authentic and dynamic presence on the stage starts with knowing yourself—in particular, knowing who you are and why you are here.

Johnathon’s soul mission is:

I recharge human hearts.

When you are lucky enough to see a stage production that he has directed, you experience his soul mission in action. Whether the genre is hysterical comedy or deeply profound and touching drama, the audience leaves the theater feeling recharged, inspired, or deeply moved—sometimes all three! Helping his students uncover their own soul missions and tying that to their artistic expression is one of the foundations of Johnathon’s work.

While his students are sometimes skeptical at first about the relevance of soul and energy work to their development, they soon discover what a difference it makes. In the end, his whole-being approach to artist development is what they thank Johnathon for again and again.

It’s been nearly four years since Eric completed his graduate studies with Johnathon. He recently wrote the three-paragraph essay below for his website and shared it with Johnathon in appreciation of all that he had learned from him. Although nearly 40 years separates these two men in age, they both bring enormous commitment, courage, and passion to their creative lives.

As you read Eric’s words, pay attention to what touches your heart or what passion is kindled within you. While music is his primary vehicle for making a difference, what is yours? How does Eric’s philosophy of living speak to you?

Where Words Fail, Music Speaks
by Eric Ferring

Eric Ferring, tenorWhile I was in graduate school, I wrote a personal mission statement:

I inspire action as a passionate creative force.

I try to keep those words in my head each day as I engage with our ever-changing world. Who am I? Who do I want to be today? Tomorrow? Next year? I’m newly discovering who it is I am and want to be each day, aren’t you? Every show, every rehearsal process helps define and redefine who I am as an artist, what I find important, and how and who I want my music to touch. I want the art we create on the operatic stage or on the recital stage to transform our world into the extraordinary place we know it can be.

Music is a means of expression, an escape from reality, and a healing force. Music has helped me discover my voice as a singer of course, but it also helped uncover my passions in the social/political realm. I use my voice to be an activist and an advocate for those whose voices are ignored or can’t be heard. We as artists must utilize our gifts to be catalysts for change, empowering our networks, and inspiring them to do what they never thought possible. 

I am an artist with a history of love, pain, joy, and sorrow. I am an artist whose path has been built with the help of hundreds of others to whom I dedicate my pursuit of this career. I am an artist who sincerely hopes I can do my part in bettering this divided, hurting world, if even for just a few moments. One of my favorite quotes that I keep in my wallet is “Where words fail, music speaks.” It’s my privilege to help the music of generations to speak, and in letting it be heard, it is my hope that you will join me in doing more. Open your ears and listen more, open your eyes and see more, open your mind and learn more, and most importantly, open your heart and love more.

If you wish to hear Eric sing, visit his website.

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If soul mission or life purpose is something you still seek, you might consider joining us in the Netherlands October 1-4 when I lead the Soul Mission * Life Vision 4-day retreat for the last time. Alternatively, you can find other soul mission supports here.

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