Chooi Brothers Reunite for Bach Double Violin Concerto: A Celebration of Sibling Rivalry & Musical Mastery with the BPO, May 3 + 4

The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) is preparing to present Chooi Brothers & Bach on May 3rd and 4th, 2024. This occaion marks the first joint performance of the Chooi brothers in Buffalo.  In this special program, BPO concertmaster and violinist Nikki Chooi will share the stage with his equally gifted brother, Timothy Chooi, for a performance of Bach’s Double Violin Concerto.

While the event has been billed as “an energetic exchange of musical one-up-man-ship,” Timothy clarified that any competition between the brothers will be good-natured and supportive. “I’ve always been inspired by Nikki’s energy,” shared Chooi.  “So whatever energy he puts out on stage, I tend to challenge that and want to do even more. And then he wants to do more, and then I want to do more…that’s basically the gist of the sibling rivalry. It’s not so much in the fact that we fight against each other. It’s more that we challenge each other all the time and one up each other.”

Nikki and Timothy Chooi in Busan, South Korea

Timothy will take center stage for Prokifiev’s Violin Concerto no. 1, a piece that he first encountered at the age of 11, and one that has continued to evolve for him. “It’s one of Prokofiev’s earlier works. And it’s very unusual for a concerto of that time, because the movements are slightly reversed in terms of their overall mood,” adding, 

“Usually, the first movement is very dramatic and usually, is the lengthiest work within the three movement structure. Prokofiev switches that around. The first movement is actually very light, and it gives almost more of a shadow, rather than an actual picture, of what the work looks like. The second movement, traditionally in most romantic concertos at that time, was a beautiful long slow lullaby-like movement, but [Prokofiev] does the opposite. He turns it into a scherzo. It’s a very light piece, and actually has a lot of colors that are starting to evolve from it. And it’s very short…The last movement is not the most virtuosic at all, but it has the most ‘first movement’ like feeling to it. It has those big melodies, it has a huge climax in the middle of the piece, and it finishes very quietly, which is also very unusual for a violin concerto. So there’s something about this piece that starts so dreamy and ends very dreamy.”   

Then, the two brothers will share the stage for the Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins. “The Bach Double is a terrific work, it’s one of those timeless pieces,” said Nikki Chooi. “The first and third movements, they build upon each other. It’s very interactive between the two violins, responding, communicating, and talking through the music itself. The slow movement is this really sublime, ‘out of this world’ kind of movement, that is very beautiful and very ethereal. So, I think the fact that it’s such a great work, and the fact that us as brothers are playing is the whole package itself. I think people will enjoy our interaction.” 

The program will also feature Saratoga Overture by Behzad Ranjbaran and Brahms’ Serenade No. 2. Timothy shares that he hoped audiences come because it “is a really cool thing to see two brothers play the violin. The repertoire itself is some of ‘the best of the best’ classical music works out there, and is relatable and yet also pushes the boundaries of the classical music sphere.” Additionally, the brothers may have some surprises in store for enthusiastic audiences.  “We have a number of encores in our back pocket,” said Nikki.  “So keep clapping and that’s where the show [really] begins.”

Chooi Brothers & Bach will be presented by The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on Friday, May 3, 2024 at 10:30 AM and Saturday, May 4, at 7:30 PM.  Tickets are available here.  

The post Chooi Brothers Reunite for Bach Double Violin Concerto: A Celebration of Sibling Rivalry & Musical Mastery with the BPO, May 3 + 4 appeared first on Buffalo Rising.

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