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Canadian Timothy Chooi wins Paternot Prize at 2018 Verbier Festival

Robert Rowat

Timothy Chooi, a 24-year-old violinist from Victoria, B.C., has won the Yves Paternot Prize at the 2018 Verbier Festival in Switzerland. He was presented with the prize on Aug. 5 by Verbier Festival founder Martin Engstroem (pictured below, left) and Academy director Stephen McHolm (right).

Timothy Chooi (centre) receives the 2018 Paternot Prize from Verbier Festival founder Martin Engstroem (left) and Academy director Stephen McHolm (right).

The $32,600 prize goes to the "most promising and accomplished young musician" taking part in the annual festival's summer academy, which this year included 56 musicians from 26 countries. The prize comprises a $13,050 cash award and a career development program valued at $19,550, including an opportunity to perform at a future edition of the famed Swiss music festival.

"The Verbier Festival is a life-changing experience as it hosts the most incredible artists today along with breathtaking natural beauty," Chooi told us via email. "It really is an out-of-body experience to have these two components together."

As a member of the 2018 Verbier Festival academy, Chooi took part in masterclasses with Pinchas Zukerman, Mihaela Martin, Gábor Takács-Nagy, Andras Keller, Pamela Frank and Franz Helmerson, and performed at numerous festival concerts, including an outdoor performance of Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 with the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra, conducted by fellow Canadian and academy member Simon Rivard (pictured below), who received a $2,600 special prize for his efforts.

Conductor Simon Rivard (left) and violinist Timothy Chooi enjoy a moment following their outdoor concert at the 2018 Verbier Festival.

"The Academy fellows were front and centre in the entire Unlimited concert series lineup," Chooi says. "They were found playing on the streets and slopes of Verbier, and even as 'gondoliers' in the télécabines."

Cellist Christine J. Lee and violinist Timothy Chooi perform atop a Swiss Mountain while taking part in the 2018 Verbier Festival Academy.

Fans in Montreal can hear Chooi in concert on Aug. 24 at Église Saint-Eustache. In January 2019, he'll perform as a soloist with the Regina Symphony Orchestra.


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