Meran and Raf

Meran and Raf

Did you know that there are multiple couples that play side by side in the ESO? This Valentine's Day, we asked one of those couples, Meran Currie-Roberts, cellist, and Rafael Hoekman, cellist, to share their love story with us.

How did you meet?

We were both cello apprentices at the National Academy Orchestra (a Canadian training orchestra) in Hamilton in 1999.

How long have you been together?

We got together a few months before Y2K! Raf was hoping the computer problems would wipe out his student loan debt, but unfortunately, we spent the next few years paying it off...

Do you have children?

Yes! Samuel is 13 and loves politics, chess, ballet, and piano. Anastasia is 10 and likes anything outdoors, reading, and musical theatre. Anastasia sings in Kokopelli Choir and performed with the ESO last year. Sam dances with the Edmonton School of Ballet and will perform with us in February. 

What first attracted you to each other?

Meran: He was damn cute, a bit of a bad boy, and as a cellist, I must admit, I totally fell for his emotional playing.  

Raf: She was gorgeous (still is), looked very sexy when she played, and I felt like I could be myself around her. 

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? If so, what is a typical celebration like for you?

Nothing fancy for us - one or both of us is almost always playing a concert on Valentine's Day. 

What’s the most romantic date you’ve ever had, or the most romantic thing you’ve done for each other?

We didn't really date before getting together. Music relationships can just kind of happen... We work so many evenings and weekends that often we just like relaxing at home. A date night is often a walk in Mill Creek Ravine and dinner at Biera or Meat!

What is it like to work together in the ESO? The best parts, the challenges, etc.

Raf: Sometimes intense things happen in rehearsal; it's hard not to bring it home. Sharing music can be an advantage, cause we play the same instrument. Sometimes Meran warns me about a passage or tempo that is difficult, cause she often prepares earlier than me. I am always skeptical, but she is right about 99.99999% of the time. Maybe I'll learn one day...

Meran: It is a total dream to both have jobs in the same orchestra. We have lived in four different cities together, always wanting to achieve this. Sometimes it is hard to believe we have actually made it happen. But sometimes it is hard not to bring work stress home!

Since you’re both musicians, did music play a big role in your wedding?

Two friends of ours played: Milan Milisavjlevic (now Prinicipal Viola at the MET) played the Sarabande and Gigue from Bach's 3rd Cello Suite. Ariel Barnes (former Principal Cello of the VSO) played the Sarabande from Bach's 6th Suite. Meran's little sister Linnea sang a song from the old Fry and Laurie series "Jeeves and Wooster" How do you feel when you marry your ideal? We played an old Casals recording of Chopin's Nocturne in E flat at the dinner. 

In your opinion, what is the most romantic piece of music?

One of our favourite songs when we first got together was Love Fool by the Cardigans! Put us both in the mood! In terms of classical music, Mahler 5 Adagietto is a huge favourite for both of us, as are late Beethoven String Quartets (not really romantic, but oh so intense). 

Any relationship advice to share with our audience?

Be honest with each other. Hold hands. Do nice things for each other. DON'T give advice unless asked for (especially cello advice!)