For the first time in more than four decades, The Florida Orchestra has a new principal clarinet on stage. Meet Natalie Hoe, 23, who makes her debut this weekend when TFO opens its 50th anniversary season with Carmina Burana. This is Hoe’s first professional position, which she was awarded fresh out of graduate school at Rice University in Houston. She was born in Crawley, a town south of London, but moved to Hong Kong when she was 1. At age 17, she left for her undergraduate studies at The Colburn Conservatory in Los Angeles. As Hoe takes over for longtime principal Brian Moorhead after his retirement, we asked her a few questions to get to know her better:
How did you choose the clarinet?
I started the clarinet when I was 6 years old, after I had already been learning piano for two years. As I come from a family who enjoys listening to classical music radio stations in the car, I started to pay more attention to the pieces. One day the Mozart Clarinet Concerto came on and I immediately asked my Mum what instrument was playing because I was so taken by its warmth and richness. She responded, “That’s a clarinet!” and thus began this lifelong journey of growth and discovery with my trusty partner in crime!
What is the absolute best part about being a professional musician?
We have the opportunity and resources to serve a larger purpose by being an ambassador to the arts. We get to share music with our local communities, inspire and engage younger audiences, foster confidence in young musicians, and use music as a way to give back to our society. What is most special is that we enjoy working on our craft every day. We get to go out and share our music, not because it’s our “job,” but because it is who we are — it is a part of us.
What excites you about the Tampa Bay area?
Everything! I am in awe each time I drive from St. Petersburg to Tampa and Clearwater, crossing the bridges and seeing the vast water leaves me speechless. I also cannot wait to explore the many beaches along the coast and would love to spot dolphins and manatees. There’s just so much to see and do here in the three cities that I have to take every opportunity I can to explore this area I now call home.
What excites you about The Florida Orchestra?
I am eager to see the orchestra grow alongside our audience. This season’s repertoire is so dynamic, challenging and sublime that I believe audiences will be walking out at the end of concerts tickled with energy, with smiles on their faces, holding on to special memories of the performance.
What about you would surprise people?
I only learned to drive after winning my position here! For years I kept putting it off and making excuses for myself, but eventually it became a necessity. Now I can’t even imagine not knowing how to drive.