Dominic Hopkins obituary | Classical music
My friend Dominic Hopkins, who died suddenly at the age of 57, was a dedicated, popular and inspiring violinist who played for many years with the Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra and was its conductor from 2008 to 2016.
He has also performed with the Academy of St Thomas, Norwich Baroque, Claxton Opera and the Norwich Pops Orchestra, soloing with the latter in Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending at Norwich Cathedral in 2012. He had good memories of performing above the waves in Cromer’s end of the pier Pavilion theatre, accompanying performances by the Cromer and Sheringham Operatic and Dramatic Society, including their 2014 centenary production of Oliver!.
Born in Norwich to Pam (née Balding), a teacher, and Eric Hopkins, a teacher and school psychologist, Dom began playing the violin at the age of eight or nine, often waking up early to practice. He conducted the Hewett School Orchestra and sang with the school choir on summer visits to Vienna. He also played with friends, playing popular money-making classics.
After conducting the Norwich Students Orchestra and the Norfolk County Youth Orchestra, Dom attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. However, he left after a year due to performance anxiety.
As a mature student, aged 27, he studied mathematics at the University of East Anglia, earning a first. He then began doing offshore surveying work, surveying the North Sea and Black Sea beds for the oil industry and, from a light aircraft, surveying diamonds in Botswana.
Throughout a busy life, he appeared indomitable, shrugging off Marfan’s syndrome mainly affecting his circulation, resulting in more than 20 operations. Later, he had epileptic seizures. At one point, while doing his surveying work, Dom had to be airlifted from the ship to hospital for an operation and was eventually disabled in 2004 – he was offered a desk job but he has refused. He then studied for a Masters in Mathematical Physics at King’s College London.
In addition to his career as a performer and scientist, Dom taught physics to adults at City College Norwich and taught young musicians for Sistema in the city.
Dom loved camping holidays and for over 30 years he was a regular at Music Camp, near High Wycombe, performing stimulating repertoire with other musicians from far and wide.
I first met Dominic when he was working on the streets, when Mozart, Pachelbel and Vivaldi filled the air, and our paths often crossed in a concert hall or a swimming pool. Dominic swam regularly for therapy and pleasure but, following a medical emergency while swimming, was taken to hospital, where he died the following day.
He is survived by his older brothers, Tim and Chris.