Brothers bring talent and $5M instrument
The Victoria Symphony (VSO) is performing a special spring concert in Qualicum Beach March 24 featuring the globally renowned Chooi brothers and their million dollar violins.
The rising stars will be featured alone and together in three violin masterpieces under the baton of conductor Timothy Vernon.
Nikki and Timmy Chooi will be performing the Bach Double Concerto and music of Ravel, Sarasate and Schubert.
In April 2012 Nikki made a guest appearance with the VSO at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre playing a 1729 Guaneri del Gesu violin and wowed the audience performing Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4.
The $4.2 million dollar instrument played by some of the world’s most famous violinists was on generous lone to him from the Canada Council of the Arts Instrument Bank.
Nikki played the treasured instrument exclusively while attending the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he obtained his Bachelors of Music in 2012.
The Guarneri del Gesu doesn’t even compare to the instrument Nikki’s parents rented for him from Long & McQuade when he was four years old.
Now the 25 year old plays a $5 million dollar Stradivarius while he pursues his Masters Degree at New York City’s prestigious Juilliard School where he is on a full scholarship.
His younger brother Timmy who is also on a full scholarship at the Curtis Institute of Music now has the pricey Guarneri that Nikki had impressed so many audiences with.
To say that both instruments on loan from the Canada Council of the Arts Instrument Bank are in capable hands is an understatement.
The Chooi brothers have been immersed in the classical music world since they were young children growing up in Victoria and even when the violinists were just starting out Eric Charman could tell they were special.
Charman, who splits his time between Victoria and Qualicum Beach, is a well known patron of the arts and has been hosting the VSO concerts in Qualicum Beach for many years.
Charman has been supportive of the Choois musical growth since they were young boys.
In fact it was Charman who introduced Nikki to Pinchas Zukerman, one of the world’s most respected violin masters.
Devoted to the next generation of musicians, Zukerman has inspired young artists with his musical genius, prodigious technique and unwavering artistic standards.
When the Chooi brothers were just six and nine years old, Charman had them perform at his home and said he and his guests were so impressed with their Bach Double Concerto that he wanted to promote their musical pursuits.
“One day I phoned Pinchas Zukerman in Ottawa and I said, ‘Mr. Zukerman I think this guy Nikki Chooi is going to go places but he just needs encouragement and touching up’,” Charman recalled.
He said at first Zukerman was reluctant and suggested Nikki wait a few more years before he applied to his summer school in Ottawa, but Charmin was persistent.
“I said, ‘Mr. Zukerman, I am not interested in waiting that long. We think you should see him soon.’ He finally conceded to allow a wireless interview which I arranged at the University of Victoria. One hour after the interview, Mr. Zukerman phoned me and said, ‘Get him down here.’”
That summer Nikki attended Zukerman’s summer school and years later so did his brother Timmy.
Both violinists, now in their twenties, are world renowned and Charman said he is thrilled to have played a role in their success stories.
Charman not only helps fund bursaries for musicians to attend the Victoria Conservatory of Music he regularly holds house concerts to showcase budding musicians he believes have what it takes to go places.
“If you give young people a sense of confidence early in life, it continues.”
Charman said the upcoming concert in Qualicum Beach is a bit of a déjà vu for him.
“What is nice about this concert is many years ago when the Chooi brothers were 11 and eight years old I did a fundraiser concert at the Royal Theatre in Victoria. Timothy Vernon was conducting and when they gave Nikki a standing ovation Timothy announced … would you believe there is another one.”
On March 24 Vernon, who is also Art Director of the Pacific Opera, will conduct the orchestra in Ravel’s delightful Mother Goose Suite.
The evening concludes with Schubert’s Symphony No. 4 Tragic.
The concert at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for adults and $10 for students and are available at Mulberry Bush Bookstores in Parksville and Qualicum Beach.
Contest: Win two tickets to see the Chooi Brothers. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with Send me to the Symphony in the subject line. Include your name and phone number. Draw will be done March 6.