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Today: Canadian violinist Nikki Chooi makes semi-finals at Montreal International Musical Competition

By John Terauds on May 10, 2013

Nikki Chooi with his 1729 Guarneri del Gesù violin from the Canada Council instrument bank.
Nikki Chooi with his 1729 Guarneri del Gesù violin from the Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank.

Vancouver-born violinist Nikki Chooi, a two-time winner of the Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank competition, is the lone Canadian at the start of semi-finals at the Montreal International Music Competition today.

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.

The 24-year-old Chooi has spent the last few years polishing his craft at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and now at the Juilliard School. He has already begun a concert career, interspersed with competition entries.

He placed among the runner-up laureates of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Belgium last year.

The prestigious Belgian competition had 12 finalists. The Montreal competition has 12 semi-finalists, which include 16-year-old Stephen Waarts among its four Americans. Besides Canada, France, Poland, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Belgium and Ukraine are each represented by a single semi-finalist, as well.

The two youngest competitors are both 16 — Waarts and Chinese entrant Zeyu Victor Li (who also has a background from both Curtis and Juilliard).

The semi-final programmes get underway tonight at 7:30, at Salle Bourgie, Montreal’s new recital hall, carved out of an old church next door to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Chooi gets the night’s final slot, scheduled for 10:20 p.m.

Chooi, who is in the second year of his second three-year win of the Canada Council’s 1729 Guarneri del Gesù violin, has chosen to perform the G Major Sonata by Maurice Ravel, Poème by Ernest Chausson and, for his contemporary work, a piece by American composer Joan Tower.

The semi-final recitals continue Saturday from 1 to 4:30 p.m. and again from 7:30 to 11 p.m., with an announcement by the jury due at some time after the music has stopped.

CBC Music is promising to make a stream of each competitor’s performance available shortly after they have finished playing. You can check in here.

CBC Radio will present recital-round highlights on May 14 and 15 on Tempo, which airs between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Another set of highlights is set to be broadcast on In Concert, on May 19 starting at 11:30 a.m.

John Terauds

John Terauds

John Terauds, Editor-Emeritus of Ludwig van Toronto, is currently a Divinity student at the University of Toronto and a church music director. He joined the Toronto Star in 1988, was the classical music critic from 2005 to 2012, and continues as a freelance critic for the paper. He is the co-author of Roy Thomson Hall: A Portrait, a book written with Toronto Star Colleague, William Littler.
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