Canadian outsider wins Joachim contest

Canadian outsider wins Joachim contest


norman lebrecht

October 27, 2018

The Canadian Timothy Chooi has won the Joseph Joachim Violin Competition, worth €50,000 and the loan of a  Guadagnini.

Chooi, 24, is a Juilliard student. He is not connected to any of the judges, or to the competition’s founder and artistic director Professor Krzysztof Wegrzyn.

Dmytro Udovychenko won the €30,000 second prize.

Third was Cosima Soulez Larivière, Wegrzyn’s hotly tipped student.

Chooi will not need the Guadagnini. He plays a 1717 Windsor Stradivarius on loan from Canada Council for the Arts.


  • Fiddlist says:

    Thanks for mentioning that Timmy is not connected to any of the judges – it was a damn fine performance and well-deserved win. Totally with you on the outrageousness of vested-interest results in competitions, but glad to see exceptions at major competitions can be possible.

    And yep, he’s got an outstanding Strad for the next three years – maybe he’ll lend me the Guad. 😛

  • V.Lind says:

    Timothy Chooi has been well-regarded here in Canada for some years, so to us he is not an outsider. Only your earlier concerns regarding possibly partial judging would have made him so. Does his emergence as the winner suggest that, even though judges may have students among competitors, impartiality is possible?

  • Canuckistan says:

    Yay Timmy! So excited for all your recent successes !

  • Herman the German says:

    I have been waiting for this piece of information in the light of Mr Lebrecht‘s prejudicial first article on the competition. By the way, if he had read the rules of the voting procedures, he would known that the artistic director had no voting right in the finals.
    He now can be happy that a Commonwealth subject was the winner. I listened to all the finalists and Timothy Chooi was my favorite, too.

    • aj says:

      Mr. Chooi is to be congratulated on winning the prize….though in the long run it means little as he joins the throngs of violin prize winners all seeking
      fame and fortune, alas not only has the violin ship
      sailed one suspects it sank . Herman the German
      might note that there is more to winning a prize
      than collecting votes in the finals..

      • Bruce says:

        All any prize can do is give a person a foot in the door. If you look at the past winners of any major competition, you’ll see some who are now superstars (or legends, if they’re no longer with us), some who are well-respected working professionals, and a lot of people you never heard of, even back when the “violin ship” was still sailing.

        For example, the Queen Elisabeth:

        There are probably all kinds of explanations for the ones who are not famous now: their governments wouldn’t let them travel/ they died young/ they developed an injury/ they found they didn’t like the lifestyle of a touring soloist/ maybe they really weren’t that exciting in performance/ they found they loved teaching. Most of the time we never know the reason.

        • AJ says:

          The most notable explanation one could
          entertain is that most were interchangeable
          bores,all sounding the same to one degree
          or another.All playing to the judges. One
          suspects if an “original ” artist player came
          along it would cause great alarm and would
          be cause to disqualification whatever the
          competition. Violin competitions are about the status quo ,to believe otherwise is naive.
          Can you imagine a modern day Kreisler ever
          winning one .

    • Krzysztof Wegrzyn as artistic director and chairman, he has no voting, but he can manipulate the voting of the jurors by inviting his friends or Conspirators as jurors. He only needs to control 2/3 or the jurors, he can control the competition. Please check all those competitions where Krzysztof Wegrzyn worked as jurors, why always with the same jurors in a competition? Why all the competitions where Krzysztof Wegrzyn worked for produced winners from his students? Not all onlookers are as stupid as Krzysztof Wegrzyn try to think or try to believe. Audience or fellow comtestants have ears and eyes, have judging capabilities from all the facts. Why no Cosima’s concerto playing uploaded on youtube? Why?

    • Why no Cosima’s concerto playing of 2018 JJV uploaded at the Joachim youtube? Cosima is innocent of this kind of scandal, she is just used as a cockfighting player. Contestants cannot do anything about the competition, even if they are students of the jurors, nothing wrong for being the students of the jurors. What’s wrong and what to be blame to is the behavior of the jurors or anyone behind the scene, which manipulate this competition that produces winners not good enough to be the winners. This will mislead the winners and those who failed the competition and mislead the audience who has no professional music ears. This will kill the competition and kill the love and passion for classical music of the real musicians. Please show us a video of Krzysztof Wegrzyn’s performance in concert, please ! we need this to prove he is a good violinist and good enough to be artistic director and chairman of a good competition.

      • Bill says:

        It’s on the competition website. Lack of upload to youtube might be for technical reasons, or human error. Or maybe a conscious decision was made that it wasn’t necessary to post a video of what is claimed to be (I haven’t watched it) a poor performance on a more public site, when it is available on the competition website for anyone who really wants to see what happened at the competition. If she had a bad night, why does that need to be on youtube forever? Surely you don’t think that any of the competitors who went in proposing to play the Sibelius concerto if they got to the finals aren’t actually able to play it?

        Her videos on the website:

        You are sadly mistaken to think that the only people who can judge violin playing are the ones who can play the violin well today. Janos Starker didn’t play the violin, but I daresay that he would be a fine judge of violinists, just as Josef Gingold would be a fine judge of cellists. If people couldn’t judge the ability and musicianship of the players of other instruments, most music directors would be unable to play a part in orchestral auditions!

        I think the odds are in my favor when I say I think that KW can probably play the violin better than you can; he won competitions, served as concertmaster of professional orchestras, made recordings and broadcasts, and has been professor of violin for more than 2 decades. But as you are apparently unwilling or unable to actually go look for the video, here is a relatively recent chamber music performance in which KW played 1st violin:

  • Anon says:

    I’d like to add an observation about this competition that impressed me very much.

    The daughter of a colleague was in the original group of 30 or so chosen as candidates. This was her 1st international competition. I don’t believe she speaks German or English, she’d prepared on short notice and although she played splendidly, she was understandably a little nervous.

    Her mother shared with me a bit about her daughter’s experience and it was heartwarming!

    She was assigned to stay with a local German couple during the competition. They were retired professionals, non-musicians, with a beautiful home and a great love of music. They were exceptionally kind and supportive, and they looked after this young lady as though she were their own daughter. They helped make the potentially frightening and uncomfortable situation of competing internationally for the first time into a positive and nurturing experience. She didn’t pass, but she played well, left with her head held high and she will certainly go on to compete successfully in the future.

    Kudos to the Competition organizers for finding and cultivating host families like this, who can truly make a big difference in a promising young musician’s career.

    • lancelot says:

      You are so right. he hospitality of the Hannover guest families is extraordininariy. and this UNICEF city of Music is really involved.
      and as you mentioned, founder und chairmain Krzystof Wegrzyn ist a nonvoting part of the finals (and the votings are absolutely secret).
      I covered all of the 10 competitions in Hannover – and the result of this yéar is just right!

  • Canadian observer says:

    If the Guadagnini loan is long-term, he might need it, as instruments on loan from the Canada Council are usually for a rather short period (usually two years).

    • aj says:

      This instrument loan show is a lot of baloney,That the Canada Council would perpetuate the nonsense
      is indeed surprising .There are contemporary
      violin makers whose work can match many historical violins in tone , power etc. but for the great unwashed the myth must on .

  • Peter Johnson says:

    Many readers would very much like to know the authoritative opinion of the magazine on the important topic of PUBLICITY (under the conditions of the unlimited technical possibilities of the modern Internet) of all without exception the rounds of international violin competitions and even, until now, the SECRET DVD preselection.