Canadian Nikki Chooi, the 2013 winner of the prestigious Michael Hill International Violin Competition, will bring his sparkling style to his Australian debut when he performs with local pianist, Amir Farid, at Musica Viva’s Coffee Concert at Melbourne Recital Centre on Tuesday 1 July. We spoke to Nikki about winning the Michael Hill International Violin Competition and the works he will be performing.
How do you have your coffee?
Sugar and Coconut Milk.
This tour is presented as part of the Michael Hill International Violin Competition, which you won first prize. How has winning the competition changed your career?
Winning the Michael Hill Competition has given me fantastic exposure – the prize package which gives me an opportunity to tour New Zealand, perform at the Musica Viva Series, and in Chicago. I’ve also been invited to a number of performances and festivals as a result of presenters being aware of my playing through my competition performances on YouTube and other news sources.
You’ve chosen some serious works (Mozart’s Violin Sonata 19 in E flat major and Ravel’s Violin Sonata in G major) as well as some flashy pieces (de Falla’s Suite Sopoulaire Espagnole abd Ravel’s Tzigane). How do you choose what to play?
Since I knew it was a performance held at noon, it greatly effected my choice of repertoire. I chose the Mozart for its brilliant opening and refreshing atmosphere, the Ravel Sonata for its colors, textures, and blues influence, the De Falla for its beautiful tunes, and the Ravel’s Tzigane to wrap up the performance in a commanding statement.
I wanted to provide contrast and variety, yet not lean too heavily on a particular style. I chose pieces that are, what I think, very easily communicative to the audience. Essentially, I would like the audience to leave the performance looking forward to fulfill the rest of the day.
Caravan is a new work by New Zealand composer Jack Body. What can you tell us about the piece?
Jack Body’s Caravan is a work composed in the style of Persian music. When I first looked at this piece, it seemed completely foreign to me in terms of tonality, rhythm, and pulse. I seeked help and advice from friends who were familiar with music written in this style and over time, I grew fond of this language of music. I hope to play more music in this style in the near future!
You’ll be performing with Australian pianist Amir Farid. Have you two performed together before?
The Musica Viva performance will be my first collaboration with Amir. I am very much looking forward to it!
What are you most looking forward to on this Australian tour?
This will be my first time to Australia so I am excited to visit and explore a bit of the country.