Hailed by the Toronto Star as a “young musician with a bright future” and noted for his “spirited and fiery performances,” Rafael Hoekman’s varied career as a soloist, teacher, chamber musician and orchestral cellist has taken him on a journey across Canada. Rafael Hoekman grew up in St. John’s, Newfoundland and began his musical training with his parents at the age of three. His principal teachers were Theo Weber in St. John’s, Yuli Turovsky in Montreal, and he completed his Master’s Degree with Shauna Rolston at the University of Toronto. With his recent appointment to the position of Principal Cello for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Rafael has come full circle - his father was born in Lethbridge, and his mother was born in Conrad, Montana, a short drive from the Canadian border.
As a young soloist, Rafael first attracted attention by winning First Prize at the Orford International Competition. This award led to performances of the Boccherini Concerto with I Musici de Montreal and a subsequent CD on the Amberola Label. In quick succession, Rafael garnered awards from competitions including the Montreal Symphony Competition, the CMC Stepping Stones Competition, the Debut Young Artist Competition and the Quebec Symphony’s Canadian Concerto Competition. In addition to performing with I Musici de Montreal, Rafael has appeared as soloist with the Edmonton Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, the Quebec Symphony, the Red Deer Symphony, the Newfoundland Symphony, Sinfonia Toronto, the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Etobicoke Philharmonic. This season he will play concerti with the Edmonton Symphony, Sudbury Symphony and the Newfoundland Symphony.
As a chamber musician and founding member of the Tokai String Quartet, Rafael won Fourth Prize in the Banff International String Quartet Competition as well as the Felix Galimir Chamber Music Award and the Sir Ernest MacMillan Grant for a young Canadian chamber ensemble. Rafael’s chamber music performances have been featured on several national broadcasts for the CBC. He has been heard all across Canada on tours for Jeunesses Musicales and Debut Atlantic. He counts as his chamber music partners James Ehnes, Alexander Tselyakov, Anton Kuerti and the St. Lawrence String Quartet.
Prior to joining the Edmonton Symphony as Principal Cello in 2015, Rafael was a member of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and held assistant principal positions with both the Winnipeg and Windsor Symphony Orchestras. He has also held positions with Orchestra London Canada and Sinfonia Toronto (principal cello) and has played frequently with the Detroit and Toronto Symphony Orchestras. In the summer of 2017, Rafael played with Colorado Music Festival Orchestra as Principal Cello.
Rafael is a passionate teacher and enjoys working with aspiring cellists as a faculty member at the University of Alberta and across the country at festivals including the Kincardine Music Festival, Southern Ontario Chamber Music Institute and Music at Port Milford.
Rafael lives in Edmonton with his wife, cellist Meran Currie-Roberts, and their two children, Sam and Anastasia.
Pianist Patricia Tao, founding member of the Guild Trio for ten years, leads an active career as performer, teacher and concert organizer. As pianist of the prizewinning Guild Trio, she performed throughout the United States and Europe and was awarded the position of Trio-in-Residence at the Tanglewood Music Centre. As a soloist, Dr. Tao toured Europe and the United States as an Artistic Ambassador under the auspices of the USIA and for Columbia Artist’s Community Concerts series.
Dr. Tao’s live performances have been broadcast on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today,” WNYC’s “Around New York,” WQXR’s “The Listening Room,” the public television series “Premiere Performances” out of St. Louis, Chicago’s WFMT and on CBC. She has commissioned and premiered numerous works, including William Bolcom’s “Spring Trio,” and Sheila Silver’s “To the Spirit Unconquered,” which she recorded on the CRI label. She has also recorded a solo CD on the Arktos label featuring works of Schubert, Liszt and Corigliano, and Chopin and Strauss cello and piano sonatas on the Centaur label.
An avid chamber musician, Patricia Tao performs frequently with fellow Trio Voce members, violinist Jasmine Lin and cellist Marina Hoover. They have recorded two CDs, one featuring the the music of Shostakovich and Weinberg, and their latest containing trios by Suk, Arensky, and Zemlinsky, which Fanfare describes as “committed music-making on a level rarely heard today.”
As concert organizer, Dr. Tao has served as Artistic Director for the Edmonton Chamber Music Society’s Summer Solstice Music Festival for eleven years and organizes the Hear’s to Your Health Concerts at the Walter Mackenzie Health Sciences Centre at the University of Alberta.
Dr. Tao received her undergraduate education at Harvard University, a master’s degree with distinction from Indiana University and her doctorate from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, where her principal teachers were Leonard Shure, Gyorgy Sebok and Gilbert Kalish. She has given master classes at numerous schools in North America, Europe and China and has held performance residencies in East Hampton, NY, Stony Brook University and the University of Virginia. She is Professor of Music at the University of Alberta, where she teaches piano and chamber music.
Private study of their instrument was the norm for guitarists in Canada before universities accepted it as a legitimate instrument. This was the situation Carl Lotsberg encountered arriving in Edmonton in 1961 at the age of 19. Already a proficient self-taught “fingerstyle” guitarist, the transition to classical was natural. Some of his early mentors were Serge Eremenko, Christopher Jordan and George Sakellariou. In 1972 Carl spent a few weeks at the Orford Arts Centre under Alexandre Lagoya and Marie Prevel. Lessons with Alice Artzt, a student of Ida Presti, proved to be very inspiring around this period. Throughout all this time there were numerous master classes with visiting guitarists from around the world, and of course ongoing independent research.
In 1962, Carl’s teaching and performing career began and when music festivals added classical guitar he served as an adjudicator across Canada. Eventually Canadian and American universities added the guitar to their curriculum and finally in 1991, the U of A asked Carl to begin a guitar program, which he still teaches to the present. He taught at Augustana in Camrose for 14 years as well and or several colleges and universities including the University of Saskatoon throughout the years. In addition, Carl served briefly as an examiner for the Western Board of Music.
In 1977, Carl added the lute and other early instruments to his teaching and performances, reflecting his passion for early music. His research in this area has constituted a large portion of his work up to the present time.
Alfred Lam was born and raised in Hong Kong. He began his cello studies at the age of 10 under Manfred Ngai for nine years. He joined various orchestras in Hong Kong, including the Hong Kong Youth Orchestra, La Salle College Symphony Orchestra and many others. After his move to Canada for University, he continuing his passion in music. He is currently studying with Meran Currie-Roberts and participating in different chamber music ensembles in Edmonton.
Edmonton born cellist and composer, Conrad Sobieraj began playing cello at age four under the instruction of his mother, Grażyna Sobieraj. During the first two years of his degree, the Vertex String Quartet premiered both of his compositions in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Currently he is attending the University of Alberta for his Bachelor of Music degree in cello performance under the instruction of Rafael Hoekman. Conrad is the cellist and one of the founding members of the early music ensemble, Convivencia Canadá.
Gordon Giang began to play the cello at the age of five under the tutelage of Victoria Clarke for eleven years. He has been studying with Rafael Hoekman since 2017. In his thirteen years of playing, Gordon has received numerous awards and scholarships from the Edmonton Kiwanis Festival. He has also had the opportunity to play in master classes for several world renowned cellists including Irene Sharp, Robert Cohen, Stéphane Tétreault, and many others. Earlier this year, Gordon was selected to be an alternate cellist for the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. Gordon is currently in first year of B. Mus Studies at the U of A.
Originally from Calgary, Laura Wakeman started studying the violin at the age of three. Starting at age seven, she studied piano for nine years, then left her piano studies after ‘accidentally’ discovering the cello, her subsequent passion. Laura studied with cellist Olena Kilchyk during her high school years. In her brief time as a cellist, Laura has played in many events and groups, including the Amici String Program, Stringfest, Kiwanis Music Festival, Calgary Youth Orchestra and the Edmonton Youth Orchestra. She was a featured soloist in her High School Concert Band, and the runner-up in the 2018 Alberta String Association Concerto Competition. Laura is currently in second year studies of BMus at the U of A.
Joshua Ching began his musical instruction with keyboard at age four with the Yamaha School of Music, and cello at age six with the Suzuki program. Since then he has studied cello for 17 years under Adèle Bossé-Morgan and Julie Amundsen, was the recipient of the Harry Farmer Scholarship, and has been a finalist in the Northern Alberta Concerto Competition. He has played in the Edmonton Youth Orchestra, the University Symphony, and the Edmonton Chinese Philharmonica, where he was featured in a concert alongside Erhu virtuoso Wang Ying in 2014. He is currently pursuing an after-degree in music education.
Robbie Szabo is out to prove that it is never too late to pursue your dream. Starting out as a drummer/guitar player in his youth, he picked up cello at the ripe age of 21 as a hobby and began a BMus at the University of Alberta eight years later. During that time, he performed with The Royal Foundry as a drummer/cellist on stages as big as Rogers Place. Robbie now hopes to further his cello playing under Rafael Hoekman and make his mark on the classical world.
Joel Park started cello at the age of 10 with Ian Woodman. He competed in the Kiwanis Festival many times while growing up and has played in the Edmonton Youth Orchestra for 7 years. He is currently a member of the University of Alberta Symphony Orchestra. Although Joel is not a music student at the U of A, cello remains his all-time favorite hobby.