A master conductor, composer and arranger, Greg Hawco carries on a family name for artistic strength, and one never shy to heave many irons in the fire
There must be something special in that Hawco DNA. While Herald readers are no-stranger to multi-threat talent Allan Hawco, brother Greg is every bit the established professional as his actor sibling.
A Different Muse
While Allan has wowed audiences for his acting chops and authentic presence in stage and screen, Greg Hawco holds a different muse entirely.
An established conductor and composer, who studied orchestral percussion at Memorial University and McGill University, Greg Hawco has composed for film and television, including high-profile credits with Republic of Doyle and most recently the adaptation of Lisa Moore’s Caught.
But perhaps Hawco’s meatiest role to date may come as the percussionist/bodrahn player for the Canadian revival of the Newfoundland inspired Tony winning musical Come From Away.
After joining the band for a limited run of engagements in Winnipeg earlier this year, Hawco and Come From Away debuted to rave reviews at Toronto’s Royal Alexandria Theatre this past February.
“The story is so well written,” Hawco shared with The Herald. “The writing is so good. The cast is amazing of course. It really comes down to the story, and it’s so authentic. That’s why it’s doing so well in my opinion.
“I’m sitting there on stage, and there are so many lines that really ring true as a Newfoundlander. The stories in the show came from real situations. Sometimes there may be a character that is a composite of two people, but those stories that are in the show actually happened. That I think is a big part of it.”
Hawco’s role as percussionist is the exact Canadian counterpart to fellow Newfoundlander and Labradorian Romano Di Nillo, who has occupied the role on Broadway since the Tony and Grammy winning production opened in March of 2017.
A Good Friend
“Romano was really helpful in helping me prepare for the role. He came by my place in Toronto and he sat down with me and we went through the part together. That was really crucial for my audition. He’s a good friend of mine, Romano. We’ve known each other for decades. We went to MUN together. Then we were roommates in Montreal together. We’ve known each other forever.”
Where most stage productions relegate their bands and instrumentalists to the background, Come From Away has always made the music a living component of the show, something a master craftsman like Hawco can appreciate.
“It’s a unique show that way, where the musicians are really a part of the cast. It feels that way not only on the stage, but off the stage as well. Traditionally musicians, they may not know half the people on stage, but we all hang out together, the musicians and the cast. It’s great, a really unique production that way. The cast are so welcoming.”
Of course, Come From Away is not the only source of pride for Hawco these days. The entire Hawco clan can take a collective pat on the bat for the success of the epic adventure television series Caught. Based on a novel by acclaimed local author Lisa Moore, Allan Hawco (who wrote the script, produced and starred) and Take the Shot Productions adapted the series for television to solid reviews this past winter. Greg composed the score for the series alongside fellow Newfoundlander and ace composer Keith Power, known for his work on Macgyver and Hawaii Five-O.
‘Proud of My Brother’
Recognizing the immense weight shouldered by Allan on the project, Greg can scarcely contain his pride.
“I’m so proud of my brother,” he shares. “We joke about it all the time, Allan is like Michael Landon of Newfoundland. He was involved in every aspect. Of course he has a great team. John Vatcher is an amazing director. But Allan is such a great writer, and I don’t know if people realize. It’s one of his incredible talents.”
Passion runs deep in the Hawco family. For Greg Hawco, who is a student of music in every facet, branching out and accepting natural change comes from a deep love for his craft.
No more is this apparent than with his latest project, the Urban Orchestra. Launching this Spring in Toronto, Hawco serves as the Artistic Director for the company that aims to strip pretentiousness and formality away from the idea of classical music.
Eliminate the Divide
“It was a concept that I had, to have an orchestra and to eliminate the divide between orchestra and audience,” he said. “A lot of concerts are in this huge concert-hall, you can’t really hear them. You see the conductors back, you can’t really see the orchestra and it’s the type of thing where you go and you’re being shushed by people and all of those things. I wanted to get rid of all of that. The audience will be surrounding the orchestra. We’re going to have people, audience members, sitting in the orchestra, so they can really experience what we as orchestral players experience. We love it for a reason. We really get to hear the music the way it should be heard, and we want the audience to participate in that as much as we can.”
Embracing such an artistic gamble is just par for the course for a man who has embraced the idea of saying yes to intriguing career paths.
“You can’t say no to things. When things come up you have to say yes, as an artist. Opportunities only come to you if you seize them. It means sometimes you get worn out from working hard, but you’ve got to do it.”
For more visit theurbanorchestra.com & check out Come From Away in Toronto.