As she talks over the phone about the potential of a singing career that could see her performing on big stages in big cities, Hope Schneider is gazing out the window at a much different audience.
A donkey, a llama, two cows, one full-size horse and a bunch of miniature ones, goats, two mules . . .
While the menagerie of animals is a hobby operation on her family’s property near Rockton – her mom likes to rescue animals and give them a nice place to live out their days – lately the pets have been helping keep coyotes away.
This fall Schneider, 20, begins her second year of music studies at Western University in London.
“I have always loved singing,” she says. When she was really young she wanted to go into country music, but she says she’s outgrown that genre, having fallen in love with opera.
Her family signed her up for classical lessons during the country phase and she started taking music seriously in Grade 9. “From then on, I absolutely adored classical music.”
Working with a teacher at the Beckett School at Laurier, she moved through the levels of Royal Conservatory of Music exams, stopping after achieving her Grade 8 diploma because she had attained her goal of been accepted into university.
Along the way she also enjoyed four years of Rockton Dinner Theatre, and she competed in the Kiwanis Music Festival, which led to performing three times at the provincial level.
There was also the role of Dorothy in a high school musical production of “The Wizard of Oz” at Glenview in Cambridge, but she says her most significant performance was about two years ago at the Music Room in Waterloo. Schneider and other provincial nominees from the Kitchener-Waterloo Kiwanis Music Festival had been invited there to perform.
“A very unique and amazing experience,” Schneider says. “That’s probably the coolest thing that I can say I’ve done (musically).”
She remembers Jan and Jean Narveson, owners of the home where the Music Room is located, as being gracious hosts, providing cookies and juice for the young performers.
The intimate concert hall left a big impression.“I’ve never stood so close to an audience in my entire life. I thought I was practically spitting on them.”
The Music Room has hosted concerts by the biggest names in classical music so it won’t hurt to have that performance on her resume given the career path she is on.
“I would love to get as many operatic or musical theatre roles as possible just to get out and perform and have that exposure and those experiences,” Schneider says.
She also anticipates teaching and adjudicating once her studies at Western are done.
As for modelling, this is her second time in Grand as she graced our Style pages exactly three years ago. And she became a bleach blond in 2016 as a model at the OMC Hairworld Championship in Korea.
Along with being on the roster at Expressions Model and Talent Agency in Cambridge, Schneider also says she signed on last fall with Toronto-based agency Next Canada. Given her university schedule, that hasn’t resulted in a lot of work yet, but she did participate in a music video for artist Est-Her that involved having a boa constrictor around her neck, not to mention a hearse and burning crosses. “I was like, ‘What is this? Am I joining a cult?’ ”
Even though it was crazy and turned out well, it makes going home to the farm – where all the neighbours are relatives – that much more enjoyable.
She also has another reason to stay connected to her roots. She was Miss Teen Ontario in 2013, but she still hopes one day to be the ambassador of the Rockton World’s Fair, a title previously held by her mom and aunts.
Being ambassador would be a good way to stay connected to a community she loves.
“I think my heart belongs in the country,” Schneider says. “It’s nice because I get to go visit Toronto and I live in London during the school year, but there’s really no other feeling like being at home.”
After a long day of shooting, Hope Schneider relaxes in a teak club chair, $1,999; with a knit throw, $225; and knit pillow, $79.WHERE TO GET IT: PAGE 182