Senior Fulfills Lifelong Dream of Conducting Orchestra

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To all of those chasing a lifelong dream, take a lesson from Peter Louw: if you wait long enough, it just may come true, even if you have to wait 83 years the way Louw did to achieve his dream of conducting an orchestra.

Louw, who now resides in Canada, was born in South Africa, and because he is of mixed race, he was not allowed to join an orchestra or any other musical group. But his dream of being part of an orchestra and becoming a conductor never died.

“I used to conduct the flowers in my garden,” Louw explains. “I loved the music so much.”

His family eventually left South Africa and settled in Canada, where Louw was able to receive a proper education and eventually have a long career as a teacher. It was satisfying for him, but Louw was still never able to fulfill his dream of becoming a conductor.

That is, until recently when the Wish of a Lifetime organization stepped in. The nonprofit group helps seniors live out their dreams, and just for a day, they were able to turn Louw into a conductor.

Wish of a Lifetime arranged for Louw to lead the orchestra at the University of British Columbia during a rehearsal last month. Louw requested to lead the orchestra through “O Canada,” the country’s national anthem, as a way to say thanks for the way the country welcomed him and his family so many years ago.

A few days before the performance, a pair of music instructors from the university came to Louw’s retirement home to teach him the basics of conducting an orchestra. “It’s not every day you make a wish and strangers put in the time and effort to make it come true,” Louw said.

“I’ve dreamt about this for a long time,” Louw said right before he gave the orchestra the cue to begin playing. “It’s wonderful to bring this to fruition.”

Other than the tempo being a little slow, Louw led the orchestra during “O Canada” like a pro. “Lovely,” he said afterwards. “That felt really good.”