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Meet the Musician: Yuri Hooker

News 2020-01-17

Meet the Musician: Yuri Hooker

Ministry, shredded wheats, and Stan Rogers: this week we get to know the WSO’s principal cellist, Yuri Hooker!

WSO: Where are you from?
Yuri Hooker: I grew up in Calgary.

How long have you played in the WSO?
I started playing with the WSO in the fall of 1999. I served as Assistant Principal Cello. After our former principal (Arek Tesarczyk) left, I took the audition and moved over to the principal chair in 2004.

What’s your favourite thing about Winnipeg?
The down-to-Earth people.

What kind of music do you listen to when you aren’t at work?
Mostly Bach. But my kids and I also like singing Stan Rogers tunes while we’re driving around town. Sometimes I’ll listen to Renaissance choral music and, not surprisingly, orchestral and chamber music. I almost never listen to solo cello music, though!

What do you do in your free time?
What’s… “free time”? But seriously, I do have other interests. Most notably, Christian ministry. In fact, I was recently appointed Interim Associate Pastor at our church here in Winnipeg (Bethesda Church–on the corner of Grant and Cambridge). That position, which I’m super excited about, starts in February! But in case anyone is worried, I don’t have plans to abandon my post at the WSO!

Also, my son is a serious soccer player, and Michelle and I enjoy going to his games as well as keeping up with our newfound passion: watching the English Premier League! I also love vicariously exercising a long abandoned interest in visual art through my daughter, watching her work up storyboards and characters in her sketchbook (she is far more artistically talented than I ever was!).

Why do you think symphonic music is still relevant today?
So many reasons! Symphonic music is one of the truly great collective expressions of what it means to be human. It has evolved over hundreds of years to have the capacity to evoke the infinite shades of our experience.

On the practical level, as a local institution it elevates our individual and shared artistic horizons by providing us with a pool of top-flight musicians who enrich and inspire the rest of the musical community: from parents who take their kids to their weekly music lessons to adult amateur musicians who get together to play chamber music (perhaps being coached by someone from the orchestra!) for the pure joy of it, and everything in-between. Without a local professional orchestra, some of that activity would happen of course, but it would happen a lot less often, and at a much lower level of accomplishment.

What are you most excited about for the upcoming season?
The tour to the Netherlands (of course!).

What’s your go-to snack?
Hmmm… hard to pick just one… lately we’ve been eating a lot of Shredded Wheat with a generous dollop of jam on top! We even have a little song about it.

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