They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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This article was published 14/3/2017 (1940 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

That’s certainly the case with Winnipeg cello student Juliana Moroz, the 14-year-old daughter of two prominent city musicians: Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Gwen Hoebig and acclaimed pianist and University of Manitoba Desautels Faculty of Music professor David Moroz.

The teenager won the Winnipeg Music Festival’s top instrumental prize, the Aikins Memorial Trophy, Saturday night at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, for her performance of Rachmaninoff’s Sonata in G minor, Op. 19: Allegro Mosso.

"I’m really surprised, to be honest," the soft-spoken Grade 10 student at Westgate Mennonite Collegiate said after hearing she had been given the nod by the Aikins jury. "I didn’t think I would win, and when they called my name out, it was like ‘Whoa.’ "

The Aikins Memorial Trophy, named after James Aikins, Manitoba’s lieutenant governor from 1916 to 1926, has been awarded since 1930 for the festival’s most outstanding performance in an instrumentalist competition. It’s typically given to university-age students on the brink of establishing professional careers.

Moroz, who turns 15 on Friday, becomes only the third youngest musician to win the prize in the festival's 99-year history, following cellist David Liam Roberts, who celebrated his 14th birthday the day he won in March 2014. Violinist Victor Schultz also won back in 1971 at age 11.

Moroz also received the Ann Lugsdin Memorial Bursary, as well as upcoming performances with Virtuosi Concerts young artists program, and during the WSO’s "Made in Manitoba" showcase on June 28.

The opportunity to perform onstage with her mother — and her teacher, WSO principal cellist Yuri Hooker — is the icing on the cake for Moroz, who also won four solo cello classes at the festival last week.

"I think it’s going to be really exciting," she says, adding that she’s inspired by both her parents. "My mom played the Lalo Symphonie espagnole recently and it was just beautiful. I really look up to her."

And does Hoebig offer string playing tips and pointers to her daughter? "My mom coaches me a lot which is really helpful. She knows what music should sound like."

Juliana first began studying cello as a three-year-old with Andrea Bell, wife of WSO principal violist Daniel Scholz.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Juliana Moroz, Aikins Memorial Trophy winner, with her father David.</p>

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Juliana Moroz, Aikins Memorial Trophy winner, with her father David.

"My parents looked at my hands when I was a baby and said, ‘Oh, she has cello hands.’ They started me out almost as soon as possible," says Juliana, who also plays piano and baritone saxophone in her school’s jazz band.

She began lessons with Hooker in September 2014, adding pieces to her growing repertoire by her favourite composers, including Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Dvorak.

"Juliana plays with a depth and passion that belies her age. She has quick hands, a fine analytical mind and, to use what I think to be the most appropriate but somewhat old-fashioned word, she has gumption," Hooker describes his protegé by email. "I’m very proud of her accomplishment and I’m pleased to continue to play a part in her development: helping her to fine-tune her exceptional musical instincts and to channel her considerable gifts."

The Aikins competition was a family affair for the Morozes, as Juliana’s brother Alexander, a 17-year-old violist, also performed after winning his own solo class earlier in the week. And it was father David who accompanied both on the piano.

Juliana says her father’s onstage presence helped calm her nerves during her performance of the lushly romantic work that first fuelled her dream of becoming a professional cellist.

"I love playing it with my dad, which is kind of special for me," she says. "It’s so great because he knows how to follow me better than anyone else."

Hoebig was the only family member not to be in the hall during the competition, as she was performing her own scheduled concert with the WSO that night.

Word quickly spread. though, with the violinist hearing of her daughter’s win backstage at the Centennial Concert Hall, thanks to a text sent to WSO associate concertmaster Karl Stobbe, whose violinist daughter Katherine also competed Saturday night.

"I’m so thrilled for Juliana because she really wanted this. She’s very goal-oriented, and this is just awesome," Hoebig says. "I’m also so pleased because it was about a year ago that she really got serious about the cello and said, ‘This is for me.’ Up to then, it was fun, but she didn’t really understand what she needed to do."

No one understands the rigours of artistic life better than someone already in the biz. Hoebig and David Moroz — both graduates of the Julliard School — say they are behind their children every step of the way, whether they choose music as a full-time career or have a Plan B (law school, in Juliana’s case) tucked up their sleeves.

"Both Gwen and I know it’s not an easy life choice," David Moroz says. "And I think we made a point of not necessarily steering them in that direction, but if that’s what they wanted to do, we’d be behind them 100 per cent."

Juliana’s banquet of options this summer include further studies at the Morningside Music Bridge program, held this year at Boston’s New England Conservatory. She was also accepted as a scholarship student to the Orford Music Academy to study with cellist Richard Aaron, as well as to an eight-week program at the Aspen Music Festival and School.

The WMF’s second major trophy, the Rose Bowl, which goes to the festival’s most outstanding vocal performance, will be held Saturday at 7 p.m. at Westminster United Church. A gala concert featuring festival highlights takes place Sunday at 2 p.m. at the same venue.

holly.harris@shaw.ca

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