Cellist Garry Hoffman has had many new concertos dedicated to him
Cellist Garry Hoffman has had many new concertos dedicated to him

It is 11 years since cellist Gary Hoffman was last in Cape Town writes PETA STEWART. He was featured in one of the first CPO International Summer Music Festivals in 2008.

It has taken that long for the CPO and Hoffman to synch their diaries. Hoffman will perform the Walton Cello Concerto, being heard for the first time in Cape Town, on Thursday, 29 August 2019, in the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra’s season at the City Hall.

He will also perform the Rococo Variations by Tchaikovsky with the KZN Philharmonic in  Durban on 5 September and with the JPO in Johannesburg on 11,12 and 13 September. On top of this, he will give a recital with François du Toit at the Linder Auditorium on 7 September, 2019.

Hoffman caused a sensation when he gave concerts in the festival in 2008 – concertgoers will recall his recitals as well as his concertos. He performed the Brahms and the Prokofiev Cello Sonatas with Elna van der Merwe, the Suite for Solo Cello by Cassado and the Lalo Cello Concerto.

There’s no doubt that Hoffman is one of the leading cellists performing today. After an amazing debut at the Wigmore Hall when he was 15, he was soon appearing in New York and all around the world. Winning gold at the Rostropovich International Competition in Paris in 1986 didn’t harm! He was just 22 when he was appointed to the prestigious Indiana University School of Music faculty, the youngest ever.

He has made his mark on the classical cello repertoire, as much as on contemporary music and had many new concertos dedicated to him.  Walton may have written the piece he will play in Cape Town in the 20th century but, says Hoffman, it “is essentially a Romantic piece, full of fantasy, beauty and atmosphere. The writing is colourful for the orchestra and passionate for the cello, a great concerto not often heard.”

Hoffman has always known he would be a professional musician, well at least from the age of seven when he took his first violin lessons.  He switched to the cello two years later and at 11 “I felt in intense desire to become a professional musician”. Not surprising since he comes from a musical family.

“In music I’m driven by the desire to express my inner feelings and thoughts, through the language of these great minds and souls, the composers. I want to go deeper and deeper into what I’ve been doing for all these years, and to continue to be true to my values. “

While music may be his major passion, there is time for others.

“I have many passions, including sports – baseball and football (European not American football!) and toros” Bullfighting indeed! He also loves great movies of the past, and art, especially painting.

Hoffman is also Maître en Résidence for cello at Chapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth in Brussels, which shares its name with the Queen Elisabeth competition on whose panel he sat in 2017.

He travels from his Paris home to teach cello and a cello class there regularly. “I teach and have for many years, considering it highly satisfying and necessary in order impart and continue what I feel to be important for today and the future, in and beyond music.”

Just before he embarks on his South African tour, he will be coaching and playing chamber music in Poland  with highly gifted young people, “a special programme,” he says.  This follows a heavy programme of recitals, teaching, and chamber music in such as American, Portugal and France. He returns to Europe following his South African tour to participate in a festival in Belgium.

The rest is history …. he plays chamber music regularly at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in New York and with others around the world; he has recorded for BMG (RCA), Sony, EMI and Le Chant du Monde, and now  La Dolce Volta. He performs on a 1662 Nicolo Amati, the ‘ex- Leonard Rose’.

What: CPO KZNPO JPO August Symphony season – Cellist Gary Hoffman
Where: Cape Town City Hall  | Durban City Hall | Lindner Auditorium
When: 22 August (Cape Town) 5 September (Durban ) 11,12,13  (Johannesburg)
Gary Hoffman tickets:
Cape Town: Artscape Dial-A-Seat 021 421 7695, https://mobile.computicket.com/event/august_symphony_season_concert_3/7091780
Durban: https://online.computicket.com/web/event/kznphil_early_spring_symphony_3/1320998578/Show:Additional%20Info