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2011 Grant Recipient

Classical Music (Orchestral Instrument) Winner

Heemin Choi

Heemin Choi is a 18-year-old student from Halifax, NS who commenced a Bachelor of Music degree at Dalhousie University this autumn. He began playing the violin at the age of 6 and won numerous awards from the Kiwanis Music Festival annually.

He was the First Runner-up at the Canadian Music Competition in 2003 and the Winner in 2004. In January 2005, he became the youngest Nova Scotia Talent Trust scholarship recipient in 60 years. Heemin has received numerous scholarships from The Nova Scotia Registered Music Teachers Association, Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts Alumni Association, String Music Atlantic, and Canadian Music Competition. In 2005 he joined the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra and is now the Concertmaster for the third consecutive year. He also won the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition in 2007, and performed the Symphonie Espagnole by Lalo in Halifax as well as in Denton Hall. In 2006, he participated in the Domaine Forget Music Camp and also had the opportunity to attend Meadowmount School of Music in 2008.

Recently, Heemin has received the Ray Simpson Award by the Nova Scotia Talent Trust, in recognition of excellence in instrumental music. Additionally, he won the Rose Bowl in the string category for two consecutive years (2010/2011). He was a guest soloist with Symphony Nova Scotia, during their summer tour in 2010.

Heemin has been privileged to receive master classes and lessons from many great artists throughout the world, including Pinchas Zukerman, Regis Pasquier, Yehonatan Berik, Donald Weilerstein, Almita Vamos, Gerardo Ribeiro, Mimi Zweig, Jean Angers, among others.

In submitting the nomination for The Hnatyshyn Foundation orchestral instrument (strings) grant, Philippe Djokic, Professor of Violin at Dalhousie University praised Heemin: "In the forty years of my teaching career, I have encountered few students who possess all of the qualities necessary for a successful performance career. Heemin Choi certainly has all of these qualities and more. He has been very generous in sharing his talent with community organizations in Nova Scotia, offering his services as performer for numerous fund raisers and other significant events such as the Nova Scotia Talent Trust benefit concert, the Korean War Veterans Association and the recent Canada Winter Games Closing Ceremonies. With all the praise and attention he has garnered recently, he manages to remain level-headed and humble while maintaining his academic standing and focusing on his career aspirations ."

In adjudicating Mr. Choi's performance submissions, the jury for orchestral instrument commended his good sense for interpretation and strong musicality... He plays with very good expression, good sound and good phrasing. Very musical, mature, and effective performances.

Jury members included: Jean Francois Guay, Saxophonist, Professor, University of Montréal ; Walter Prystawski, Founding Concertmaster, National Arts Centre, Toronto; and Lucas Waldin, Resident Conductor, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.

Artist's Statement

For me, the pleasure and privilege of playing being able to play the violin especially at an institution of such fine professional artistic quality like Dalhousie has been of a great honour to me. Despite having been offered major scholarships to such institutions such as the Cleveland Institute of Music, New England Conservatory among others, I believe that the level of artistic help that I am able to benefit from is just as great here in Canada even when compared to the big and famous institutions around the world. Throughout my training and advice received from my mentors and teachers in the 12 years I have been playing the violin, I have learned to appreciate not only the technical aspects of making music, but the musical finesse and concentration that contributes to extending my artistic sphere of knowledge. Through prospective studies of many technical studies such as Paganini, Gaviniers, Dont, Sevcik, Rode, as well as J.S Bach, I have been able to develop my technical aspects of playing while simultaneously understanding that great music making requires much more than technical perfection but also a internal understanding of the musical ideas that are being portrayed on the paper. By applying the technicality of the studies to such Concerti like Paganini, Tchaikovsky, Glazunov, Mendelssohn, Vieuxtemps, Wieniawski, Bach, Sibelius, Lalo, Saint-Saens, among many others, I have been able to understand a little more of the vast spectrum of the musical varieties and subtleties that make a successful musician. Moreover, by performing some of these major works with orchestras such as Symphony Nova Scotia, the Chebucto Orchestra, Nova Symphonia and the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, I have been able to experience not only the joy of performing with a group of extremely talented musicians that have been able to contribute and mentor my musical development, but I have also began to learn the things that contribute to a truly great performer, whether it be in a solo concert setting, quartet or orchestra. Despite having infinite more things to learn and experience, through my current experience I believe that performing is the culmination of the technical precision practiced hours daily, as well as the sheer, almost overwhelming experience of being able to play such great compositions to an audience who appreciates that hard work that was put into place. With my personal experience specifically, I believe that the musicality of a performer is displayed best when supported with sound technical basis, and that through self expression and personal interpretation of a work, as well as being able to recognize the interpretations of many great artists that have played the piece previously, a performer is able to emerge as ones own identity, creating a combination of musical ideas from previous mentors and adding it to ones own. As an artist, I hope to continue my education past my undergraduate degree, continuing on to do my masters as well as a possible PhD. While a career as a soloist would be ideal, another great hope for me is to be able to create great music with many other musicians in an orchestra setting, while simultaneously being able to teach and pursue a solo career, whether it is in an international setting. However, the sheer privilege of being able to share my musical ideas with colleagues in an orchestra setting is an aspiration that would be extremely fulfilling for me.





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