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Piano professor Winston Choi makes mark, evoking curiosity about music daily

Head of piano to perform solo concerto for March 14 VIVID celebration at Auditorium Theatre
Performing Arts, Performance (Music), Chicago
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Winston Choi
Winston Choi

For most of his life, 40-year-old concert pianist and head of piano at Roosevelt University Winston Choi has aimed to open new vistas for himself, his audiences and his students.

As a small child growing up in Toronto, for instance, he would draw pictures, free form, then spend hours translating the images into music on the piano.

As a more seasoned piano student, first at Indiana University and later at Northwestern University, Choi discovered how his hands could work most efficiently and precisely at the piano, winning two prestigious competitions – the Honens in Canada and France’s Concours International de Piano 20e siècle d’Orléans.

At Roosevelt, Choi has regularly encouraged his students to know no limits in exploring the piano and music. “The most important characteristic one can have is curiosity, the seeds of which I try to plant every day,” said the piano professor who has been head of piano in Roosevelt’s Chicago College of Performing Arts (CCPA) since 2008.

Now, as he prepares to perform for the first time at CCPA’s VIVID in the  Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University, Choi is hoping to evoke curiosity among listeners for a piece few may have heard – Piano Concerto No. 2 by American composer Edward MacDowell.

“I’m hoping to awaken my audience’s curiosity and passion for the piece, which is full of flourishes that showcase the piano in all of its glory, as well as surging impassioned Romantic melodies,” said Choi, who will be accompanied by the Roosevelt University Chamber Orchestra, under the director of guest conductor Andrew Grams, who is music director of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra.

“It will be a moment in time for all of us celebrating CCPA’s anniversaries to experience a great work that does not get performed frequently these days anymore, but is still vital to our American musical landscape,” said Choi who has concertized extensively as a solo recitalist throughout North America, Europe and Asia, and also performs as Duo Diorama with his wife and CCPA violin artist faculty member MingHuan Xu.

This year’s VIVID, which celebrates both the 150th anniversary of CCPA’s music conservatory and the 20th anniversary of its theatre conservatory, begins at 7:30 p.m.  The show’s second half will feature Roosevelt theatre students offering a retrospective medley of song and dance presented over the last 20 years by the theatre conservatory, accompanied by a CCPA jazz combo under the direction of faculty member Scott Mason, head of jazz. Theatre faculty member Jane Lanier, a Tony and Drama Desk-nominated Broadway actor and choreographer, will direct the retrospective, with music direction by CCPA theatre instructor Ryan Brewster.  The performance also will feature a world premiere by award-winning CCPA graduate music composition student Mitch Weakley.

VIVID 2018 is a free performance, but tickets are required and donations made for CCPA scholarships are encouraged. More information about the show as well as tickets for a pre-show Gala are available at

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