February 1, 2009
Sunglee Victoria Choi to Receive New York Debut with Musica Sacra
On January 19, 2009, The Elizabeth & Michel Sorel Charitable Organization, a private foundation aimed at advancing opportunities for women in music, awarded Korean pianist Sunglee Victoria Choi the first-ever Sorel Medallion in Piano Collaboration. In addition to a cash prize of $5,000, Ms. Choi will make her New York debut with the professional choir Musica Sacra on March 20, 2009 at the Rose Theater, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. This performance gives Ms. Choi the opportunity to work with several of the choral and piano industry’s most respected artists, including conductor Kent Tritle and pianist Margo Garrett. The launch of The Sorel Organization’s new competition perpetuates founder Claudette Sorel’s desire to make her foundation a place where gifted women can further their careers through scholarships and access to networking opportunities.

Judy Cope, The Sorel Organization’s Executive Director, saw a partnership with Musica Sacra as an invaluable opportunity for the next generation of talented musicians to work alongside well-established artists. “New York City offers countless opportunities to collaborate with concert halls, world-class mentors, and legendary arts organizations,” Ms. Cope said. “Through the Medallion Program, the Sorel Organization is able to bring these talented women’s dreams of such opportunities to fruition.”

The Sorel Organization’s purpose in creating a collaborative piano competition is to offer this special group of artists an uncommon chance for recognition and exposure. “Opportunities are more plentiful for the solo pianist than the collaborator,” Ms. Cope observed. “The art of collaboration presents its own set of unique challenges, and even those who master this art form are too often overlooked. We hope the Medallion Program’s new competition will bring these worthy performing artists front-and-center for a much-deserved bow.”

The selection process for the Medallion winner included an extremely challenging audition and jury performance. After applicants submitted a recent recording which demonstrated their technical and interpretive gifts, a final round of live juries was held in New York City. As a test to each woman’s skill in performing with other musicians, bass-baritone Kevin Deas and violinist Jorge Avila joined the competitors for a live performance, in which each pianist was judged on her dexterity and intuition in following queues and adjusting to changes occurring in the midst of a recital setting. Although four women completed the collaborative performance with perfect scores, Ms. Cope said the judges ultimately selected Ms. Choi as the winner for “her ability to go beyond what was written on the page and display intuitive musical magic.”

The Elizabeth & Michel Sorel Charitable Organization Inc. was established as a private foundation in 1996, with the mission of expanding boundaries for women in music. Claudette Sorel, who founded the charity in honor of her parents, remains the youngest graduate of The Juilliard School, completing her degree at age 9, after which she became an internationally acclaimed concert pianist in the predominantly male world of performers. Ms. Sorel passed away in 1999, but her vision remains strong in the Organization’s continued devotion to furthering the prospects of talented women pursuing music careers.

In 2005 the foundation hired Judy Cope as Executive Director, who began unveiling new projects to serve the aspirations of the organization’s beneficiaries and remain true to Claudette Sorel’s vision. The Medallion Program was launched in 2006 with the first Choral Competition Program. The program has since expanded to include competitions in conducting and piano collaboration, and looks forward to similar contests in composition and film scoring. In addition to the Medallion Program, the Sorel Organization recently pledged $100,000 to endow scholarships for gifted female students in New York University’s Film Scoring Program.

Musica Sacra’s March 20 performance marks the New York City debut of 27-year-old Sunglee Victoria Choi, who has already established herself in her native country as an accomplished performer and awarded collaborator. At age 15, Ms. Choi made her Seoul debut with the Bulgaria Sofia National Orchestra playing Chopin’s First Piano Concerto. She received her Artists’ Diploma from the Korean National University of Arts and later earned her Bachelor of Music degree from Yonsei University. Ms. Choi has performed and participated in master classes at the Academie de Musique de Lausanne as a pianist in one of only ten piano and violin duos selected for sonata study with Bruno Canino and Pierre Amoyal. Ms. Choi currently enjoys her role as studio accompanist to Hyo Kang at The Juilliard School, where she is in her second year of study in the Master’s of Music Collaborative Piano program, studying with Margo Garrett, Jonathan Feldman and J.J. Penna.

Under the direction of music director Kent Tritle, Ms. Choi will join highly-regarded pianist Margo Garrett and Musica Sacra in performing Brahms’s rarely heard piano four-hand version of Ein Deutsches Requiem. She will accompany baritone John Michael Moore for Mahler’s Lieder eine fahrenden Gesellen, and pair with Ms. Garrett once more to close the concert with Schubert’s Fantasia in F minor, Op. 103, D. 940.

Tickets for Sunglee Victoria Choi's New York Debut with Musica Sacra can be purchased here.

The Sorel Organization Website

Musica Sacra Website

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