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Christina Choi / Ah Young Kim Headshots

New Season, New Faces: Christina Choi & Ah Young Kim

Meet the seven new members of the orchestra!
October 11, 2023

Adding to an already exciting start to Year 101 of your Toronto Symphony Orchestra, seven new musicians join the roster, including three new faces in violin section, three more in double basses, and one new trumpet. After jumping through the various obstacle courses involved in a rigorous audition process — which drew in hundreds of applicants from around the world for blind auditions — the latest recruits join our New Season, New Faces series to reflect on the incredible journey that has brought them to one of Canada’s premier orchestras. Part Two of this series welcomes Christina Choi (Violin) and Ah Young Kim (Violin). 

Christina Choi

Christina (Jung Yan) Choi, Violin

Christina Choi was the
Recipient of the 2015 Hnatyshyn Foundation Developing Artist Grant and gave her first concerto performance in 2006 with the Queensland Symphony. She’s since performed around the world in venues such as Bridgewater Hall, the Sydney Opera House, and Carnegie Hall; and has studied at global institutions such as the Glenn Gould School, the Colburn School, and the New World Symphony.

NW — How did you feel when you found out you were joining the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO)?

CC — I was thrilled! Of course, any good result in an audition is welcome news but, being originally from Toronto, joining the TSO means that I can be at home with friends and family. Also, I was a member of TSYO growing up and remember doing side-by-side concerts with the TSO, being coached by them, and attending many of their concerts — so it feels like I came full circle in that way. I feel extremely lucky to be able to pursue my artistic goals while being in a city and orchestra that I love.

NW — What are some of your favourite pieces to perform?

CC — It’s really difficult to pick just a couple, but I’m drawn right away to works by Mozart, Beethoven, and Stravinsky. Their works, for me, display an ingenious balance between compositional coherence and deep emotional expression, and I always find myself very inspired when performing them.

NW — Are there any concerts this season that you're particularly excited about?

CC — There are so many! I’m very excited to work with Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Seong-Jin Cho alongside our music director for the first two programs of the season. I love the pieces that we are performing and we get to hear some incredible piano playing. As a Studio Ghibli fan, I’m looking forward to meeting and working with Joe Hisaishi in June. It’s not everyday you get to play Ravel and Spirited Away with the legend himself in one concert!

NW — Are there any community engagement or educational initiatives you're passionate about participating in?

CC — As an alumna of the TSYO program, I feel like it would be very meaningful to me to get involved in it again. It’s always rewarding to see students navigate the same path that you’ve been through and to build connections through shared experiences.

Ah Young Kim

Ah Young Kim, Violin

Ah Young Kim began violin and piano at the age of 4. She was accepted into the prestigious Young Jae Music Academy at Daejeon Art Center, South Korea; and, at the age of 14, made her solo début performing Lalo’s
Symphonie espagnole with Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra. She completed the Artist Diploma Program and received a bachelor’s degree from the Glenn Gould School in Toronto. Prior to joining the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Ah Young was a section violinist at the Quebec Symphony Orchestra (2022/23).

NW — What are some of your favourite pieces to perform?

AYK — My favourite orchestra piece to play is Ravel's La valse, because of its elegance, lush texture, and magnificent atmosphere. It makes me feel like I'm being drawn somewhere. For solo pieces, I love playing Sibelius’s Violin Concerto. The composer is from Finland and the opening of this concerto depicts a swan gliding on a lake during a very cold winter. After spending a winter in Québec City, I fully got to experience what that feels like and I can say I understand the piece better now!

NW — Are there any concerts this season that you're particularly excited about?

AYK — For orchestral pieces, I'm particularly looking forward to playing Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, Beethoven’s Symphony No.7, Mahler Symphony No.5, and the Joe Hisaishi program. For other upcoming projects, I'm very much looking forward to performing in the TSO Chamber Soloists Concert next season with James Ehnes and other wonderful violinists from the TSO and TSYO.

NW — What are some of your favourite things to do in Toronto?

AYK — I spent 6 years studying in Toronto and I'm excited to reunite with my friends. During my time here, my focus was primarily on practising, so I can't say that I truly explored the city. Now, I'm enthusiastic about exploring interesting spots and trying out great restaurants!