At the age of 10, Laurie Matiation was handed a French horn, and with that her future began. Today, she is playing in the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) and paying her passion forward by teaching music.

Originally from a small farming village in Oakburn, Man., Matiation did not know she would come to dedicate her career to music.

“I didn’t even know what a symphony orchestra was,” Matiation says.

She was introduced to the instrument upon moving to Brandon, Man., just as a band program was starting up.

“The horn was kind of a natural thing for me. I just ended up doing really, really well in it. I still don’t see myself as a prodigy. I just see myself as a good horn player who just has lots to contribute to the world in my playing and in my teaching.”

The hornist earned her bachelor of music in performance at Brandon University while spending her summers in band programs, which allowed her to continue growing as a musician. As a result, she was able to get exposure to other horn players.

Matiation began her professional career with the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra in 1978. Five years later, she became a member of the CPO; she’s now been playing with the orchestra for almost 35 years.

“It’s like there’s no greater high, I don’t think, than that experience when you hear glorious music and you’re right in the middle of it and you just take it all in,” she says.

“After a concert, sometimes you’re on such a high that it takes a while to come back down again.”

Fellow musician, Heather Wootton, has played with Matiation for 25 years in the CPO and describes their working relationship as a dream.

“She’s just a really solid, rounded person and exudes a lot of confidence. It’s a comfort to play beside her as well because you’re so sure of her musicianship and her capability that it makes my job really, really easy,” Wootton says.

“The CPO is actually considered one of the top orchestras in Canada … It’s a pretty coveted job. Matiation’s one of our pillars in the orchestra as far as her playing, reliability and musicianship.”

Matiation plays her French horn by memory, centre stage of the Bella Concert Hall. With her horn, she spends countless hours practicing and performing.  Photo by Michelle Huynh.Laurie Matiation stands proudly in the Bella Concert Hall, reminiscing over her musical journey thus far. Photo by Michelle Huynh.

The hornist puts in around two hours of personal practice time a day – on working days, she can play for about seven hours.

“I’m not sure I manage my time all that great sometimes because it feels like I’m flying by the seat of my pants, but I love what I do. So that makes a huge difference,” Matiation explains.

In addition to her busy performance and rehearsal schedule, Matiation teaches at Mount Royal University and at the University of Calgary.

“It excites me, to watch my students, grow musically and grow as individuals. I love it. I love the relationship I have with my students. I feel very passionate about teaching.”

Taylor Krause, principal horn in the Calgary Youth Orchestra, has been studying under Matiation for five years.

“She knows where to push and also where to stop. I was a little hesitant about horn for the first year just because it was a challenge, but she knew how to get you to start loving it,” she says.

“She’s invested and there for you every step of the way.”

Matiation sees her musical career as quite the ride but, feels honored to be representing the arts in Calgary through the CPO.

“I love what I do. I don’t regret any of it.”

Editor: Mackenzie Jaquish |

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