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Chooi Chooi Du concert a winner

Coast Recital Society
Violinists Nikki Chooi and Timothy Chooi with pianist Wenwen Du.

Two violinist brothers, Nikki Chooi and Timothy Chooi, teamed up with pianist Wenwen Du last weekend to give an exceptional performance at the Raven’s Cry Theatre in a concert presented by the Coast Recital Society (CRS).

All three are under the age of 30 but they expressed the emotion and technique of mature musicians trapped in young person’s bodies.

“How unusual is it,” asked CRS’s artistic director Frances Wainwright, “for two brothers to graduate from the same music school?”

Older brother Nikki studied at the Curtis Institute of Music and Juilliard. Timothy missed his brother and after studying in the family’s home town of Victoria, he was also accepted at Curtis.

“It’s so specialized,” Timothy told the audience in a pre-concert chat. “It’s very nourishing training.”

Recently the New York Metropolitan Opera made Nikki an offer he couldn’t refuse. He has been appointed concert master for their orchestra, a key role that the talented Nikki takes in stride.

The two brothers played together for Sunday’s concert on a Prokofiev piece then performed solo, and with Wenwen Du in a complicated programme designed to showcase each soloist. Wenwen Du is from China and has studied in England. She shone on her solo performance of Rachmaninoff’s Preludes. 

Nikki called Ravel’s Sonata for Violin and Piano a favourite piece. “Ravel used the work to explore the differences between the violin and the piano,” he said. The second movement is Ravel’s homage to the blues and the third movement, the Perpetuum mobile, was superb – “one of the few times the violin has more notes than the piano,” Nikki said.

All three performing on the Violin and Piano Sonata by Norwegian composer Grieg was also memorable. Good musicians must have imagination – to express the colour and flavour of their performance. Timothy told the audience that the first movement reminded him of a storm in Tofino while the second movement was a beautiful melody much like Danny Boy.

On Saturday afternoon, the three gave a workshop for young Sunshine Coast musicians, under the guidance of Coast music teacher Kathleen Hovey. It generated interest from a number of younger people who showed up in the audience at this particular concert. After Sunday’s concert Nikki returned to New York on the red-eye flight to be at a 10:30 a.m. rehearsal at the Met. On Monday morning Wenwen and Timothy performed at a mini-concert at Shorncliffe Care Home as part of CRS’s outreach program.

The next event for CRS will be Paul Lewis on piano with music by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Weber on Saturday, March 18 at 2:30 p.m. See for more information.