Catherine Hewgill grew up in Perth, where she began studying the cello at the age of ten, continuing at the Royal College of Music in London in 1978. She subsequently completed a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Southern California, where she was named Outstanding Chamber Music Graduate.
In 1984 she won the Hammer-Rostropovich Scholarship and was invited by Mstislav Rostropovich to perform in a recital at the Second American Cello Congress. A period of private study with Rostropovich followed. In 1985 she toured Europe with I Solisti Veneti, after which she studied in London with the late William Pleeth, teacher of Jacquelin du Pré. More recently she studied in Europe with Dutch cellist Pieter Wispelwey.
Returning to Australia in 1987, she joined the Australian Chamber Orchestra. In 1989 she was invited to join the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and was appointed Principal Cello the following year. She has toured with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in Japan, China, Europe and the USA, and appeared as a soloist with most of the Australian orchestras. Her Sydney Symphony Orchestra solo concerto performances have included: Beethoven’s Triple Concerto (conducted by Ashkenazy), Haydn’s D major concerto (Dutoit), Elgar’s Cello Concerto, Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations, the Boccherini/Grützmacher Concerto in B flat, Dutilleux’s Tout un monde lointain, the Brahms Double Concerto with Michael Dauth, and as a soloist in concerts with Nigel Kennedy.
In 2011 she performed as principal cellist in the inaugural concerts of the Australian World Orchestra, and in 2003 she toured Japan with the Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa. For several years, she was also a member of the Australian Trio, and more recently has performed chamber music with Pinchas Zukerman. In 2018 she released a recording of Russian music for cello and piano with Vladimir Ashkenazy.
Catherine Hewgill's cello was made by Giovanni Grancino in Milan in 1707 and is lent to her by a generous donor.