Meet Nikki Chooi, the Met’s New Concertmaster

Last week, the Metropolitan Opera announced the appointment of a new concertmaster: 27-year-old Canadian violinist Nikki Chooi. Chooi, who grew up in Victoria, British Columbia, began studying the violin at the age of four through the Suzuki method, later attending Curtis and Juilliard. Last season he performed as a member of the innovative, genre-defying string trio, Time for Three. (Here is the group’s cover of Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off).

Here’s an excerpt from Chooi’s 2014 debut album. Maurice Ravel’s Tzigane, written in 1924 for the Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Aranyi, is inspired by the distinctively free sound of Gypsy music. Ravel originally wrote this piece for violin and luthéal, a modified piano, newly patented at the time, which suggested the sounds of Gypsy folk instruments. (You can hear a performance of Tzigane with the luthéal here).

Chooi’s playing displays a fiery, edge-of-your-seat brilliance and virtuosity. His percussive pizzicati in the first movement of Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 80 almost made me jump out of my seat, even though I’m familiar with the piece. (Undoubtedly that’s partly the result of decisions made by the recording’s sound engineer). In addition to the Prokofiev, Ravel’s Sonata in G Major and Gershwin’s Three Preludes are included on the disk.

Recordings

  • Find this recording iTunes, Amazon
  • Solo Bach at the 2013 Michael Hill International Violin Competition in New Zealand

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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