This week there are two recitals that feature a phenomenal father and son cello-piano duo. Today, February 27th at The Rady JCC at 2:00pm, the Music and Mavens concert series presents Rapt in Rachmaninov.  This concert will feature Yuri and Ari Hooker. Yuri Hooker is the Principal cellist with The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and his son Ari recently won the $2500.00 prize from the Women’s Musical Club of Winnipeg, and is currently studying at the University of Manitoba’s Desaultels Faculty of Music.

Then on Sunday, March 3rd as part of The Winnipeg Chamber Music Society’s 4th concert of the season Yuri and Ari Hooker will return to the stage and give a world premiere performance of Ari Hooker massive cello sonata called Sonata Epica.

For cellist Yuri Hooker, the opportunity to perform with his son is a dream come true. As Yuri states, “It’s been a huge source of pride and real joy. It’s something that you dream about as a musician…that your kids will enjoy music and love playing it…and even overtake you as musicians. It’s been such a thrill to see how Ari’s been developing over the years.”

The Rachmaninov Cello sonata that is being performed today is one of the real masterpieces of the cello literature. Yuri states that all cellists love to play it.  However as he points out, one of the real challenges is to find a pianist who can actually play the highly virtuosic piano part.

Enter Ari Hooker…at a very young age he has already had some great successes, and is more than up to the task of tackling Rachmaninov’s piano writing, although as he points out, it does require work to perform the part. “Getting your fingers around the notes is tough….Rachmaninov being the virtuoso he was, did not shy away from making difficult piano parts…so just the technical aspects are the hardest part.”

Ari definitely has a knack for executing the thick, big, virtuosic writing that Rachmaninov’s music requires. He has even taken this ability and incorporated it into his own compositions. On Sunday, March 3rd as part of The Winnipeg Chamber Music Society’s 4th concert The Hooker’s will be giving the world premiere of a monumental work written by Ari called Sonata Epica. Heavily inspired by the piano writing of the Russian composer Nikolai Medtner, and his Dad’s always beautiful and expressive playing, his cello sonata should definitely be heard. As Yuri describes it, “I can’t think of a cello sonata that is more epic… it takes you on this great journey over five movements…from turmoil to despair all the way to joy, peace, hope… it does take you on a trip.

The performance of the Rachmaninov Cello sonata with the Hookers takes place today, February 27th at The Rady JCC at 2:00pm, as part of t the Music and Mavens concert and lecture series, for more details visit their website.

The concert that will showcase Ari Hooker’s Sonata Epica takes place on Sunday, March 3rd at the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Muriel Richardson auditorium. For more details visit the WCMS website.