Spotlight - Gwen Hoebig
Written by Staff
“I had very stubborn parents; there was no option in my family to not pursue music,” says Hoebig with a laugh.
Although it may not have been her decision initially to pick up the violin at age five, it’s a choice that she has never looked back on. As a child, Hoebig dedicated hours upon hours to the piano and violin. At times, she wanted to quit playing music altogether. In her early teenage years, she stopped playing the piano; however, she continued her violin training. By her mid-teens, Hoebig knew that becoming a professional violinist was the right career path for her.
“The mid-teens seem to be the time when most kids figure out if they’re going to become professional musicians. You realize that you’ve reached a certain standard that would allow you to do that,” says Hoebig.
Hoebig’s parental guidance and perseverance as a child paid off as her passion for music continued to grow. She pursued her love of the violin at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York, and graduated with a bachelor degree and master of music degree in 1981. Upon graduation, Hoebig was a member of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra for three years. The native Vancouver resident moved to Winnipeg in 1987, after accepting a position as the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s concertmaster.
“It was an audition process; they had a vacancy and I applied. My application was accepted, there were nine of us auditioning that day I believe, and I was selected for the position.”
As the concertmaster, Hoebig’s primary job is to act as a liaison between the orchestra’s musicians and the conductor. She has held this position with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for the past 24 seasons.
Hoebig has performed all the major violin concerti with orchestras across Canada, the United States and Europe, and she has been recognized as one of Canada’s most outstanding violinists. In 1993, she received a commemorative medal for the 125th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation for her contribution to the arts, and she was recently recognized at the Canadian Music Centre’s 50th anniversary for her exemplary commitment to the performance of music by Canadian composers.
Although her musical prowess has provided her with many opportunities to travel the world, her home is now in Winnipeg, a city she believes to be very supportive of the arts community.
“Winnipeg’s music scene is completely unique, in that it is very rare for everyone to get along in music, and we do. It’s an absolutely wonderful group of musicians to be a part of, and it's very collaborative. Everyone is strong at what they do and we all get along. It’s an amazing group to be a part of.”
Hoebig has frequently shared the stage with her husband David Moroz, pianist and artistic director of the Winnipeg Chamber Music Society. Having had the opportunity to work with countless orchestras and performers, Hoebig is hard-pressed to pinpoint her favourite musical moments.
“There have been so many memorable moments, it’s hard to single out something more than anything else,” the violinist says with a chuckle.
Hoebig is already in rehearsals for a performance with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra in March 2011. She is looking forward to performing a Beethoven Violin Concerto, including Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major and Bartók’s Concerto For Orchestra with the WSO.
“For me, the Beethoven Concerto is pretty much, in a very classical way, the pinnacle of the repertoire. It’s a treat to be able to practice it, and it makes me aim to be a better violinist.”
Aside from performing, Hoebig also has a passion for teaching and has taught in British Columbia and in Calgary at Mount Royal University. A former member of the University of Manitoba’s faculty of music, Hoebig now maintains a private teaching studio in Winnipeg, sharing her love of music with her young students. One thing that remains unchanged is her passion for the violin, which is still as strong as ever after 45 years dedicated to the art. She credits her passion to her fellow colleagues.
“We’re always pushing each other in different directions, and that’s a big part of staying enthusiastic,” says Hoebig. “Teaching is a big part of it too. We’re always delving into new styles, and there are so many different ways that you can express yourself through music.”