Accomplished Violinist Ji Soo Choi Has Died at Age 28

August 1, 2023, 4:26 PM · Canadian-based violinist and Juilliard graduate Ji Soo Choi died last week at age 28, after a long battle with lymphoma.

Ji Soo Choi
Violinist Ji Soo Choi.

"We are very sad to announce the passing of a treasured member of our National Academy Orchestra of Canada family, Ji Soo Choi," wrote NAO Orchestra Manager Megan Jones. Ji Soo had played in the NAO in 2021. "Her loss is not only a loss to her family and those who loved her but to the entire world of music. Ji Soo was a popular and devoted colleague. She always played with profound passion and joy."

Born in 1994, Ji Soo started playing the violin at age three in South Korea. The biography on her website leads with a humorous story: "Her mother bought a violin for Ji Soo’s third birthday. Ji Soo really seemed to enjoy her birthday gift and was left alone for few minutes with the violin. When the mother came back, Ji Soo was asleep with the violin, destroyed completely - and that is how her and her violin’s journey began."

She swiftly got on track, studying with Kwang Gu Kim and Yoo Jung Kim in South Korea, then in Canada at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto with Marie Bérard, Mayumi Seiler, Barry Shiffman, and David Zafer. She won numerous competitions that allowed her to take to the concert stage at a young age.

Eventually she made her way to The Juilliard School, where she earned her bachelor’s and master's degrees, studying with Ida Kavafian and Daniel Phillips. She was pursuing an Artist Diploma from the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory of Music, studying with Paul Kantor and Erika Raum.

In 2013 Ji Soo was listed by the Canadian Broadcast Company (CBC) as one of "30 Hot Canadian Classical Musicians under 30." In 2018 she was one of 18 young musicians chosen to receive a three-year loan of a fine instrument from the Canada Council for the Arts' Musical Instrument Bank; in her case the c. 1830-1850 Eckhardt-Gramatte Joachim Georges Chanot I violin.

The Canadian-based Brott Music Festival will dedicate its August 17 performance of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, with violinist Kerson Leong, to Ji Soo.

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August 2, 2023 at 12:11 AM · What a terrible loss. Deepest condolences to her family and all who loved her.

August 2, 2023 at 12:04 PM · How awful to lose such a shining gem of rare talent. Thanks for the touching story about the tiny violin.

August 4, 2023 at 04:36 PM · Awefull. What a loss, and condolences. I only hope that she managed to fulfill some of her dreams.

August 7, 2023 at 08:44 PM · Lymphoma is still very much an enemy, as is death. I had not heard of her, I hope that like many South Koreans, she had the faith that overcame.

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