Rufus Choi has always felt that his American birth and Korean heritage have imparted an international aura and underlying wanderlust to his musical career, which is defined by passionate, sold-out performances in numerous countries across the globe. Recently added to the distinguished roster of Steinway Artists, Mr. Choi won First Prize and the People’s Choice Award in the notable Jose Iturbi International Music Competition which offers one of the largest monetary prizes for piano competitions in the world.
Rufus Choi has performed widely around the United States and many of his performances have been broadcast on local television and radio stations, such as ABC, CBS, KKGO, and WQXR. Mr. Choi has enjoyed solo recitals at Lincoln Center and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City, a recent sold-out solo recital at Zipper Hall in Los Angeles to benefit the AMRON Foundation, and a solo recital in Savannah, Georgia, in the “On Stage” music festival. He has performed both Chopin Concerti with the South Bay Chamber Orchestra to sold-out houses on both occasions, and was the featured soloist in the season finale with fireworks at the Redlands Summer Music Festival. He performed with the Rapides Symphony Orchestra in Alexandria, Lousiana, after winning the Louisiana International Piano Competition, and has also performed at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, Pasadena’s Ambassador Auditorium and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
Internationally, Choi has appeared in recital at the prestigious Salzburg Festival in Austria, given various concerts and masterclasses in Nicosia, Cyprus, performed in the Philomusica Festival in Oxford, England, and was invited to perform at music festivals in Puigcerda, Spain and Locarno, Switzerland. He has given solo recitals in a palace concert in Tours and festival performances in Angoustrine and Osseja, France. In Germany, Mr. Choi performed as a soloist with the Goettingen Symphony Orchestra in a palace concert at the world-famous Herrenhausen Gardens with Martin Braus conducting the Beethoven “Emperor” Concerto, which was recorded and distributed for the Hannover Musik Hochschule. In Frankfurt Mr. Choi performed Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto with the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic under the baton of Juri Gilbo. In Italy, Mr. Choi was the top prize winner at the Rovere D’oro International Piano Competition. He has toured in South Korea on a number of occasions, and performed at the Seoul Arts Center, Hoam Art Hall, Busan Cultural Center, Sejong Hall, as soloist with the Puchon Philharmonic, and was top prize winner in the Han Romanson International Piano Competition. In Mexico, Mr. Choi took the top prize in the Parnassos International Piano Competition and performed in Monterrey. Mr. Choi was awarded the semi-finalist diploma in the International Liszt Piano Competition in Utrecht, as well as diplomas in the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow on two separate occasions. In Taiwan, he won a major prize in the Taiwan International Piano competition and performed as a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra in the National Chiang Kai-shek Concert hall.
Rufus Choi’s musical training also reflects his international outlook. He is unique for an American pianist, in that he identifies strongly with the Russian school of technique and artistry. A graduate of The Juilliard School (BM, MM) in New York City, where he studied with Oxana Yablonskaya, Mr. Choi was awarded the Soloklasse Diploma, the highest degree attainable at the prestigious Musik Hochschule in Hannover, Germany, where he studied with Vladimir Krainev. Previous teachers also include Konstantin Sirounian, Bruce Sutherland and Abbey Simon.
In addition to his passion for performing, Mr. Choi also believes that an essential part of being a musician is sharing his knowledge with students who love music. Mr. Choi’s experience in teaching began as an assistant professor to Oxana Yablonskaya, who taught at The Juilliard School. Since returning to Los Angeles in 2007, he has had the privilege of teaching and working with talented pianists, a number of whom have gone on to study in various conservatories such as the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Manhattan School of Music. He has also given masterclasses in Beijing, China, at the Two Cranes International Music Festival, Sara Compinsky masterclass series, Honors Piano Performance Seminar at the Colburn School in Los Angeles, and various cities throughout the U.S. and in Busan and Seoul, Korea.
Choi’s debut album, A Musical Journey, was released by Cambria Recordings to critical acclaim, and future projects include an all-Liszt CD recording, also on the Cambria label, that explores humanity’s constant struggle between good and evil—a recurring theme in the colorful music of Franz Liszt.
Rufus Choi currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Ruth Choi and their three sons, Noah, Micah and Nathanael.