Longtime principal cellist of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Yuri Hooker is well-known for his passionate and soulful interpretations of a wide range of repertoire. His frequent solo appearances have met with acclaim, garnering him plaudits in the Winnipeg Free Press (“mesmerizing”, “[a] sublime musician and audience favourite”), and in the The Strad magazine. Career highlights include Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations with the WSO and Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1 with the Manitoba Chamber and Grand Forks Symphony Orchestras; world premieres of John Tavener’s Popule Meus for cello and orchestra, Michael Oesterle’s Agate Rosary (large ensemble version), and the Western Canadian premiere of Henri Dutilleux’s concerto Tout un monde lointain; as well as performances of Britten, Jocelyn Morlock, and Mendelssohn at the International Cello Festival of Canada. A strong advocate of new music, Yuri appears regularly with Groundswell, and made the premiere recordings of Ørjan Sandred’s Amanzule Voices for cello and live electronics (Navona Records), and Dorothy Chang’s Bloom for solo cello, among others. He has also served for many years as a core member of the Winnipeg Chamber Music Society and the Clearwater String Quartet.
In addition to performing, Yuri is an inspiring and dedicated teacher whose students are regularly recognized locally and nationally with awards and scholarships. He maintains a private teaching studio and was the Sessional Instructor of Cello at the Marcel A. Desautels Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba from 2004-08. In 2007 he founded the Winnipeg Summer Cello Institute, and in the summer of 2011 he and Elation Pauls launched the Rosamunde Summer Music Academy for young string players. Yuri has also been a faculty member of the Valhalla Summer School of Music in Silverton, BC, and was formerly principal cellist with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Brandon University, which he followed with graduate studies under Janos Starker and Stanley Ritchie (period performance) at Indiana University.