? Pictures at an Exhibition, from VSO's Musically Speaking series, with Desmond Hoebig on cello, Saturday, Oct. 6, 8 p.m., at the Orpheum Theatre.
Tickets: $17-$62 at vancouversymphony.ca
WITH both parents as music teachers and an older sister a virtuoso violinist, Desmond Hoebig might have been swayed by youthful rebellion to pursue another career path.
But the Vancouver-born Houston-based cellist doesn't recall giving anything but a career in music a second thought.
"I will say that being in the middle of a musical family, it was the most natural thing to do," says Hoebig, in Vancouver for a performance Saturday with the VSO.
Chatting on the phone from his mother's home in North Vancouver, Hoebig, who turns 51 next week, recalls that during his upbringing "music was year round." During the school year, the family home filled with the sounds of dad Helmut's violin and viola students and mom Patricia's voice and piano students while in the summer, the family would head off together to The Banff Arts Festival and others like it.
Hoebig, who attended Handsworth secondary, left home as a teen to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. His studies there were followed by four years at the Juilliard School in New York City, where a close-knit group of Canadian talent (his sister, the violinist Gwen Hoebig, and pianists Angela Cheng and Andrew Tunis among them) helped with any homesickness.
"As amazing as New York City is, for a young Canadian away from home, having our group of Canadian friends really watch out for us made it like a large family," he says.
If there was any youthful rebellion in Hoebig's formative years as a cellist, there are no signs of it in his musical bio. As a young cellist, he was a first prize winner at the Munich International Competition, the CBC Talent Competition and the Canadian Music Competition.
During his 27-year career in music, Hoebig served as associate principal of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and principal cellist of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He was principal cellist of the Houston Symphony Orchestra for 12 years before joining the Cleveland Orchestra. Six years later Hoebig returned to Houston but not to the symphony.
In 2009, he joined the faculty of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston as a professor of cello.
Hoebig says the transition from performer to professor was an easy one. "It's a very nice living being a university professor," he says, noting the high calibre of students and faculty alike.
And despite his teaching role, he has no plans to retire his white tie and tails. "Rice encourages us to continue performing so I don't actually think of myself as having finished the performing career," says Hoebig, who performs mostly chamber music, not grand orchestral works, these days.
His Vancouver visit includes a side trip to the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival for a midweek recital with pianist Jon Kimura Parker, his roommate at Juilliard and fellow professor at Rice. And he continues to perform with his sister Gwen, longtime concertmaster of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and her husband, the pianist David Moroz, with whom he formed the Hoebig-Moroz Trio in 1979.
Saturday's performance with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is not Hoebig's first. He debuted as a soloist with the VSO at eight, according to the Canadian Encyclopedia. And his last performance here was the Brahms Double Concerto in 2007.
Hoebig will be performing Tchaikovsky's Mozart-inspired Variations on a Rococo Theme. Also on Saturday's symphony program are Ravel's Alborada del gracioso, Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition orchestrated by Ravel, and Ippolitov-Ivanov's Caucasian Sketches, Suite No. 1, Op. 10: Procession of the Sardar.
The cellist has performed the Tchaikovsky in public on just four other occasions. He studied the Variations while at Juilliard and first played it in concert at age 20, as a finalist at the prestigious International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.
"It's a wonderful work that is very, very exciting," he says. "Beautiful, very romantic, and one of the major cello concertos of the literature."