Met replaces concertmaster

Met replaces concertmaster


norman lebrecht

June 07, 2017

The Canadian-US violinist Benjamin Bowman has been named concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra. He will share duties with David Chan, who has held the seat since 2000.

Bowman, 38, is presently concertmaster with American Ballet Theater.

He replaces fellow-Canadian Nikki Chooi, 28, who won the seat last year on a one-year, non-tenure contract. It’s tough out there.


  • Ben says:

    It’s sad. Nikki Chooi is a brilliant violinist. I certainly didn’t expect that.

  • Jewelyard says:

    Ben is a terrific musician and a great guy. This is wonderful news!

  • John McLaughlin Williams says:

    What gets you hired in one place can get you fired in another. This is also true for conductors. That is the music business: it is one of endless personal perspective.

  • Max Grimm says:

    Out of curiosity, does anybody know the average rate or percentage of successful/unsuccessful trials of the MET Orchestra?

    • qwerty1234 says:

      I’d be interested in this as well. Their contract stipulates that they MUST hire a musician after every audition. They certainly are a fine orchestra with many great players. This method differs from many other orchestras where vacancies are kept open for years before the right candidate is found.

      • Brian B says:

        That could explain a certain Met co-concertmaster who certainly shall not be named but who was most unsatisfactory. I winced every time she was announced as concertmaster for a performance.

      • Frank says:

        Can you quote that actual language? I’ve never heard of a clause like that in any US orchestra CBA.
        Further, auditions for titled positions at the MET are sometimes not open, i.e. invitation only. That is the history for CM there, at least in two instances I’m aware of. Maybe this was different. For the record, IMO both Ben B and Nikki C are outstanding violinists/musicians. Congrats to Ben.

        • Max Grimm says:

          From the musicians of the orchestra themselves. The linked webpage is about the audition process for the MET Orchestra and the section I quoted is part of the paragraph titled THE X-FACTOR: WHAT MAKES MET AUDITIONS DIFFERENT? toward the bottom of the page.

          “The MET Orchestra has several such policies that are either unusual or unique in the world of orchestral auditions. The committee is not allowed any communication or discussion amongst itself before voting on a candidate; no candidate is ever cut off mid-round; perhaps most unusually, the MET Orchestra always offers a job to a candidate at the end of an audition.”

  • Saul Davis says:

    Benjamin Bowman distinguished himself as an outstanding musical personality at the Curtis Institute of Music. I have followed his progress ever since. The Met’s gain is ABT’s loss, as well as the groups he free-lanced with. He has rich tone, phrasing, personality, verve, and is simply an artist in every possible way. He’s come a very long way from Brandon, Manitoba, where he had a superb teacher.