2019-2020 Golden Violin Competition Semi-Finalists

Aaron Chan, violin (winner)Aaron Chan

Where do you call home?

I was born in Canada, but my family moved to Hong Kong when I was very little. In that sense, I feel more like a Chinese/Hong-Konger, but I am glad I finally came to Canada to study and am able to acknowledge my Canadian side!

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Other than on stage or in the practice room, where might one find you?

It’s hard to say. I like routines, but I also enjoy varieties in routines over longer stretch of time. I guess the idea of “Bohemian lifestyle” intrigues me and I am fascinated to see where it takes me!

What’s your favourite pastime?

I love walking around nature, it really inspires me and allows me to take a step back and look at things differently. I really appreciate the accessible and beautiful sceneries in Montreal! I also love dogs, and love spending time with my dog when I am back home. Watching dogs in nature are particularly amazing as well.

What would it mean to you to be named the winner of the Golden Violin Award?

It would absolutely be an amazing honour. Just being able to participate in the competition already provides an opportunity to reach the community of McGill and Montreal, which I am really grateful for. As a student who studies performance, I am always appreciative and fascinated for any opportunities that advocate communications with the general public, and this competition definitely provides an amazing platform for that purpose!

Who are you studying with and who will be your collaborative pianist?

It’s my fourth year studying with Jinjoo Cho, who has been a magnificent teacher and life-changing figure for me. I am very grateful for her never-ending inspirations and dedication. My collaborative pianist is Felix Hong. Felix is a wonderful pianist to play with, and his funny and positive personality has definitely made the entire collaborative experience even more amazing!


Alicia Choi, violinAlicia Choi

Where do you call home?

A combination of Montreal, New York and California.

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Other than on stage or in the practice room, where might one find you?

At my library carrel.

What’s your favourite pastime?

Reading chamber music with great company, great food, and great wine.

What would it mean to you to be named the winner of the Golden Violin Award?

It would truly be an honour to be among musicians who have contributed so much to the performance art and life at the Schulich School.

Who are you studying with and who will be your collaborative pianist?

Denise Lupien et Brigitte Poulin


Braden McConnell, celloBraden McConnell

Where do you call home?

Cleveland, OH

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Other than on-stage, where might one find you?

I spend a lot of my free time discovering and listening to music. Recently, I have been listening to a lot of gypsy funk and Yiddish folk. Finding ways to connect these disparate styles to what I do on my instrument occupies a lot of my time.

What’s your favourite pastime?

My favorite pastime is probably spending time with my two nieces and three nephews. They all live in Cleveland and fill my trips home with fun and excitement. Liesel, the oldest, has been studying piano for two years. Hopefully, one day I will be performing with her.

What would it mean to you to be named the winner of the Golden Violin Award?

McGill has provided me a wonderful environment to develop as a cellist. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to study here. Winning the Golden Violin Award would allow me to begin giving back to the school that has done so much for me.

Who are you studying with and who will be your collaborative pianist?

This is my second year studying with Brian Manker. He has been an incredible source of inspiration and an inexhaustible source of knowledge. I am very privileged to get to work with him.

I am performing with Wei-Tang Huang. I could not ask for a more diligent and thoughtful collaborator.


Russell Iceberg, violinRussell Iceberg

Where do you call home?

I am originally from Old Snowmass, Colorado, but for the most part I grew up in the state of Maryland around Washington, D.C. I would still most definitely consider Colorado to be my home though!

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Other than on stage or in the practice room, where might one find you?

There are many places I might be found outside the practice room, but wherever I am, more than likely I am with my friends. I am lucky to have musical colleagues who are wonderful people and meaningful friends and I really enjoy spending time with them, whether it be social gatherings or long and in-depth discussions about music. I get a great deal of inspiration from the amazing people I have the privilege of having around me.

What’s your favourite pastime?

I have an assortment of hobbies that I enjoy. I love film photography and writing with fountain pens. Whenever I am lucky enough to be back in the Rocky Mountains, I love to hike. Though admittedly impractical in many respects, it is a goal of mine someday to have climbed all of the 14ers (mountains whose summit elevation is greater than 14,000 feet) in Colorado.

What would it mean to you to be named the winner of the Golden Violin Award?

It would be a tremendous thrill to be named the winner of the Golden Violin Competition. McGill and Montréal at large have been deeply inspiring to me over the last two years. The musical ideas I have been exposed to here have fostered significant and accelerated growth in my playing and understanding of music. I feel that I have in many ways found my voice as a musician in my last two years in Montréal. More than anything, I love performing. It is my favorite aspect of music making, and the I would be incredibly excited if I got to do more of it as a result of being successful in this competition.

Who are you studying with and who will be your collaborative pianist?

I have the great privilege of calling Professor Andrew Wan my teacher at McGill. He has been a seemingly inexhaustible source of new and inspiring ideas and motivation to me over the last two years here. Beyond just this, as great of a musician and teacher as Professor Wan is, he is just as wonderful a person. He is an amazing role model for all of his students.

I will be collaborating with the fantastic pianist Michel-Alexandre Broekaert. I met and began working with Michel-Alexandre near the beginning of my time in Montréal, and over the last two years we have gotten to perform a wide range of great repertoire. It is so much fun getting to work with him, and I always look forward to any performance I get to collaborate with him on.


Shulamit Sarid, celloShulamit Sarid

Where do you call home?

Home is Rehovot, a small town in Israel between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

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Other than onstage or in the practice room, where might one find you?

At the library - either studying, writing papers, or grading my students' assignments.

What’s your favourite pastime?

As a cellist, doctoral student, and a lecturer, I don't have much free time. But when I do, I love washing and wiping floors while watching Grey's Anatomy.

What would it mean to you to be named the winner of the Golden Violin Award?

I would be immensely honored! I received the cello on my fifth birthday as a present from my mother, who was my first cello teacher, and I have been practicing ever since.

Who are you studying with and who will be your collaborative pianist?

My teacher is Prof. Matt Haimovitz, and I will be playing with Wei-Tang Huang. I'm incredibly grateful to both of them!

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