Cellist returns to town

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014 01:48 pm

CPO violinist Lorna Tsai performs alongside Rafael Hoekman in a classical concert at the RPAC on March 16 at 3 p.m.
CPO violinist Lorna Tsai performs alongside Rafael Hoekman in a classical concert at the RPAC on March 16 at 3 p.m.
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A Calgary cellist is always looking for an opportunity to perform in Okotoks.

Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra’s Rafael Hoekman continues to return to the stage at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre (RPAC) for the Town of Okotoks’ classical music series due to his love of the venue and audience, and will do so again on March 16 at 3 p.m. in a duet performance with violinist Lorna Tsai.

“That little hall is incredible,” he said. “The acoustics are a miracle. You’ve got this little hall and the acoustics feel like you are in this very large, very open space and you don’t have to force the sound to make it project.”

Hoekman said he feels the RPAC audience appreciates the classical music CPO musicians perform during the Sunday series.

“Everything we do is very warmly received,” he said. “I don’t think it’s being lost on anybody.”

Hoekman says he takes every chance he can get to perform at the RPAC.

“That Sunday afternoon series I will always jump into that because I get to play the classical music that I’ve been wanting to play since I was kid,” he said. “Right now Okotoks is the only actual outside community where we have this partnership. We would like to have more partnerships like this with other communities.”

Hoekman enjoys other opportunities to perform outside of the orchestra.

“That’s the experiences that keep you sharp, keep you honing your craft over time and keep you developing is to play chamber music and to play solo things outside of the orchestra,” he said.

The CPO provides a variety of experiences for its musicians with outreach programs in the Calgary area. These include performances at the YMCA, Inn From the Cold, The Mustard Seed, schools and libraries, said Hoekman.

The classical music program is less structured than other outreach programs, he said.

“It means we get to play more of the serious music that most of us got into the business for,” he said.

Since Hoekman, who grew up in Newfoundland, joined the CPO three years ago, he’s had the opportunity to pair up with other musicians including Tsai, his partner for this weekend’s concert.

Tsai performed with Hoekman on a few occasions and looks forward to this weekend’s show.

“It’s just really easy to work with him,” she said. “It’s also just enjoyable to play in a smaller setting. It’s a great chance to be able to make music with someone on a more personal level.”

Tsai said there is a lot of non-verbal communication going on at these smaller performances.

“When musicians play they are constantly trying to communicate with each other – indicate things to help them play together,” she said.

“There are some things that you understand without it being said.”

Tsai said the cello and violin compliment each other, with the more mellow cello sound blending into the darker and richer sound of the violin.

Tsai began playing the violin at age five at her home near Boston.

Although she also learned to play the piano, she enjoyed the violin more and took lessons at the conservatory in Boston in the preparatory division from the age of seven until she graduated high school.

“There was something about it that really drew me to it,” she said. “It just seemed more natural to me and there’s something about playing it or hearing it that I really gravitated towards. It just really appealed to me.”

Tsai got her masters in violin performance and after a year contract with a United States orchestra and a fellowship program in Miami, Florida, Tsai moved to Calgary and joined the CPO.

She performed at the RPAC last fall in a quartet and looks forward to returning this weekend.

Tickets to watch Hoekman and Tsai perform cost $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Children 12 and under cost $2. Tickets can be purchased at www.okotoksculture.ca or by calling 403-938-3204.


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