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Tuba triumph: Orem musician returns to Abravanel Hall after battle with lymphoma

By Jacob Klopfenstein, KSL.com  |  Posted Dec 14th, 2017 @ 8:04pm


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OREM — Ian Hopper’s music career will come full circle on Monday as he performs at Abravanel Hall.

It’s the same stage on which he was given his own tuba years ago as he battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

“The music that we play just fills me with so much emotion that it’s almost difficult to not put my heart into this music that I’m playing,” Hopper said. “To be in Abravanel Hall, it’s one of my favorites with the way that the hall sounds.”

Hopper, now 22, was given his tuba in 2011 when he was 16. He was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was 15 years old, and he received the tuba as a Make-A-Wish Foundation gift.

Utah Symphony Principal Tubist Gary Ofenloch presented the tuba to Hopper.

Next week, Hopper again will perform on the Abravanel Hall stage with the Millennial Choirs and Orchestras group in which he now plays. The group plays two Christmas shows on Monday, one at 5 p.m. and another at 8 p.m.

Monday’s shows will feature traditional Christmas tunes arranged for orchestra and chorus, Hopper said.

“It’s going to be a great Christmas concert,” he said.

For more information, visit millennial.org.

After initially finding a tumor in Hopper’s neck, doctors then found cancer was present in his thyroid and near his kidneys, he said.

Now, he’s “perfectly healthy” and recently returned from an LDS mission in Baltimore, he said.

Hopper continued his family’s tradition of playing music when he started playing tuba at age 12, he said.

Playing tuba during his illness helped Hopper maintain his physical, mental and emotional health.

“To sit down and listen to the music and play and kind of get my mind off of things and just focus on playing, that’s something that helped me out,” Hopper said.

Tuba requires a lot of air, and playing regularly helped keep his lungs strong throughout his treatment, he said.

As he went through eight months of chemotherapy, Hopper said he was able to see his relationships with his family and friends in a new way.

“I was able to see the relationships I had with them, and I realized how much that meant to me and how much I wanted to strengthen that,” he said.

No one can explain what it’s like to go through a traumatic experience like a devastating illness, Hopper said. It’s different for everyone, he added.

Even though it’s very difficult, people going through such experiences should work hard to have a positive attitude, he said.

For Hopper, helping others is one way he copes in times of struggle.

“I serve others and I look to help them because when I help others I feel good and I stop worrying so much about myself,” he said.

Hopper’s looking forward to playing at Abravanel Hall next week, he said.

“I have a lot of attachment to that stage,” he said. “Abravanel Hall is probably one of my favorite places to perform.”

Jacob Klopfenstein, KSL.com
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