November 13, 2019

CIM Master's Student Stephen Hawkey Wins Section Cello Position with Indianapolis Symphony

Stephen Hawkey

Born into a family of musicians, it was predestined that CIM master’s student Stephen Hawkey would play an instrument. First it was piano, then violin for the youngest of five siblings. At age 8, the cello came into his life.

Today, at 23, Hawkey is the newest member of the cello section of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Named recently to the position, he also has been a contract musician with the Akron, Ann Arbor, Canton, Firelands and Mansfield symphony orchestras.

“My sisters, brother and I started on the piano at a very young age,” said Hawkey, who was raised in California until the age of 12 when his family moved to South Carolina. “One of my sisters encouraged me to pick up the cello. All of my family members, including my parents, are either musicians or have extensive knowledge and appreciation of music.”

Hawkey enrolled in CIM’s master’s degree program in fall 2018 as a student of Melissa Kraut, co-head of the Institute’s cello department. Since his arrival, he has been an award winner in CIM’s Fall Concerto Competition and was accepted into the Conservatory’s Advanced Piano Trio and Intensive Duo programs under the direction of faculty Kathryn Brown, Si-Yan Darren Li, Anita Pontremoli and Sharon Robinson. As a prize winner in the concerto competition, he will perform as a soloist during a conducting recital with the CIM Orchestra in the spring.

Kraut was effusive in praise of her pupil.

“Stephen is a cellist of the highest caliber and I am thrilled about his new position in the Indianapolis Symphony,” Kraut said. “When he came to CIM, his clarity of purpose, focus and drive was clear; he had his heart set on winning a position with a major orchestra. Since coming to CIM he has made such exceptional and rapid growth – as a cellist and artist – and the change in his playing from lesson to lesson was measurable. I wasn’t surprised when he told me he won the position.”

During the past three summers, Hawkey has participated in numerous music festivals, including the National Repertory Orchestra in 2016 and 2018, and the Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy in 2017, where he was a finalist in the concerto competition, performing as a soloist with the festival orchestra. He also has played in master classes with such artists as Christopher Adkins, Colin Carr, Michael Haber, Kim Kashkashian, David Kim and Todd Phillips, who currently is a CIM visiting chamber faculty member.  

Choosing to study at CIM was the best decision he ever made, Hawkey says.

“When I came to Cleveland for the audition, I had the best feeling about the CIM community and the faculty here than I had at any other school,” Hawkey said. “Looking back, studying here with Dr. Kraut for the past two years was the best decision I could have ever made. I feel that my playing has completely transformed under her instruction.”

Profoundly influenced by his family – his three sisters were piano, voice and flute majors in college – Hawkey largely credits his mother with motivating him to be the outstanding musician he is today.

“More than anyone else, my mother has pushed me, encouraged me and inspired me to always work hard to achieve the next big thing,” he said.

Following Hawkey’s graduation in May 2020, that next big thing is the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

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