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Researching and reporting on the lives of some really interesting people (RIP)




Born in Norwich, his parents were teachers Pam Balding and Eric Hopkins. Eric was also an educational psychologist.

The family were very musical and Dom (as he was known) learned the violin. He used to get up early before school, so he could practise extensively.

He went to the Hewett High School in Norwich where he led the school orchestra and sang with the school choir. They used to take summer trips to sing in Vienna and Dominic was part of this.

In his spare time, he would busk in Norwich city centre, playing poplar classics and hits. But whilst at school he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, which affects circulation. He took up swimming to improve his circulation, but as well as therapy it became a passion of his

He was the leader of both Norwich Students Orchestra and the Norfolk County Youth Orchestra, before gaining a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

He managed just a year of his studies there, due to extreme anxiety about performing in public.

He did return to further education, going to the University of East Anglia (UEA) to study mathematics.

He then became a surveyor, working for offshore oil companies, investigating the beds of the North and Black Sea, before spending time in Botswana searching for potential diamond sites (from a light aircraft).

Flag of Botswana (courtesy The Flag Shop)

But his health was deteriorating. He had over 20 operations due to Marfan Syndrome and he developed epilepsy, having dramatic seizures.

One occurred whilst he was doing surveying work and he had to be airlifted to hospital. It meant he was forced to retire from surveying.

In a change of career he began to teach physics to adults at City College, Norwich.

And he returned to music, regaining his love for it He started teaching at Sistema in Norwich. They encourage children to take up musical instruments and give them the opportunity to play with an orchestra.

Dom Hopkins (courtesy The Guardian)

They worked with NORCA (Norfolk and Norwich Community Arts) and Dominic found himself working with them too.

Soon he was performing himself once again. He was part of the Academy of St. Thomas, Norwich Baroque, Claxton Opera and Norwich Pops Orchestra.

With the last of these, he played solo on a recital of Vaughan Williams’ ‘The Lark Ascending’, in Norwich Cathedral in 2012.

Also, he was playing with the Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra between 2008 and 2016. He came the leader of the orchestra.

He was lead on the performance of Mahler’s 8th Symphony performed at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival in 2016.

Additionally, he played at the end of Cromer Pier in the theatre there, with the Cromer and Sheringham Operatic and Dramatic Society on a regular basis. He was particularly fond of their centenary production of ‘Oliver’.

But it wasn’t just music in his life. He was an avid camper and he merged his two passions, spending his holidays for 30 years at ‘Music Camp’ near High Wycombe, where he met talented musicians from around the world and matched himself against them.

The week before he died he was performing in ‘The Sound of Music’ at the Theatre Royal, Norwich. He impressed everybody by wearing flashing shoes.

He had a medical emergency whilst swimming at the UEA Sports Park and was rushed to hospital, but unfortunately died the next day.

He was described variously as a “dedicated, popular and inspirational violinist”, and “a dearly loved Norwich violinist”.

A friend and fellow musician called him, “an absolute legend who will be missed.”

The Norwich Philharmonic said, “He was an exceptionally fine violinist and a passionate musician, much loved by us all”.  They dedicated their next concert, which was at St. Andrew’s Hall, Norwich, to him.

Regular Impresario Performances

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