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Q&A | 30 Questions For Heidi Van Hoesen Gorton

By Ludwig Van on February 8, 2018

Toronto Symphony Orchestra's Principal Harp, Heidi Van Hoesen Gorton( Photo: Karol DuClos)
Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Harp, Heidi Van Hoesen Gorton (Photo: Karol DuClos)

Every month for so, Ludwig Van poses 60 questions to an artist who has made a mark on Toronto’s music scene. Each artist picks and chooses, with a minimum response of 20. A kind of personality test, if you will.

Heidi Van Hoesen Gorton is a self-described “symphony baby.” Born into a musical family, her father was Principal Oboist for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and her mother remains as Principal Harpist. Gorton was determined to enter the family business and studied Harp at the prestigious Juilliard School, which eventually lead to her moving to Toronto to take up the role of Principal Harp for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. She and has a few awards to be proud of, including first place at the Young Professional Division of the American Harp Society (AHS) National Competition (2009) and the Anne Adams Award (2010). Gorton has been presented as a soloist all over the world — from New York to Los Angeles, and from Vancouver to Vienna. She is an active teacher, leading master classes at the University of Toronto and in universities throughout the United States.

Readers can hear Heidi Van Hoesen Gorton at the TSO’s Valentine’s Day concert in a performance Reinhold Glière’s Harp Concerto and Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet (February 14 & 15). See www.tso.ca for all the details.

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What are three things that Toronto doesn’t have but should?

Trader Joe’s, Trader Joe’s, and Trader Joe’s.

Default drink/cocktail of choice?


Your favourite smells?

Lavender, and Indian food.

The dumbest thing that you’ve ever done to your hair?

Oh my gosh, where to begin. I guess allowing my college roommate to cut my hair, which to no surprise ended badly, prompting me to go get a WEAVE in the sketchiest part of NYC you can imagine.

Where was the last place you travelled to for work or pleasure?

St. Bathélemy, French West Indies — for work!

Your major character flaw?

Overactive inner critic.

Your three favourite films?

Billy Madison, The Wizard of Oz, and The Life of David Gale.

What was the luckiest moment in your life?

When I arrived in Toronto, after passing through Immigration & Border Control, the first person I met was Andy, my boyfriend. I hired him sight-unseen to help unload my U-Haul at the recommendation of my colleagues.

What are you the most proud of?

Being a member of a world-class orchestra in a world-class city.

The relatively normal piece of clothing that you believe you’d look the most ridiculous in?

Baseball hat.

What musical instrument do you secretly long to play?

Something that vibrates. Maybe the cello?

What sport did you give up and why?

Soccer, because my parents caught me sitting in the outfield during practice picking flowers to make flower chains. Least sporty person ever.

If you had a motto, what would it be?

“Nothing is that serious.”

The thing that makes you the happiest?

The faces of my three pets (Frank, Dewey & Bee Bee) pressed against the window of my house waiting for me when I get home from work.

The first three things that you do every morning?

Stretch, cuddle my pets, and skin care routine.

The first album that made you love music?

Cinema Serenades, featuring Itzhak Perlman and the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Where did you go to school?

The Juilliard School of Music.

What was the unluckiest moment in your life?

When my house burned down eight weeks after moving into it!

Shoe of choice?

Sparkly flats.

Your least favourite smells?

Cigarette smoke and farts.

Name the musical equivalent to junk food.

Top 40…i love it.

The three books that you read that made an impact on you in your formative years?

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo (sorry that’s four!!)

What is your biggest phobia?

Raw poultry.

What is the best thing about your work?

My colleagues. Hands down.

Three things of no monetary value that you own and will keep dearly until you die?

My childhood stuffed animal (Pepi the penguin), a pair of wooden egg cups from my grandmother, tiny red satin shoes that were supposed to be a Christmas ornament on my parent’s tree, but because I was a premie, they fit me!

What is the one animal that scares you the most?

Cockroach shudder.

The different career path that you could have gone on?

Being on Broadway. I was the lead in all of my high school musicals!

What are you listening to as you answer these questions?

Lil Miss Kay by Meatloaf at Mary’s. My boyfriend’s former band from the UK!

Have you ever fired a gun? If so, what were the circumstances?

Yes, a super-soaker squirt gun! Closest I’ll ever get to the real thing.

What are three things about Toronto that make you want to live here?

Quality of life, exceptional cuisine, diversity.

For more in our Q&A Series, click HERE.


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Ludwig Van
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