Student receives gold medal

Second-year becomes associate of Royal Conservatory

Deanna Choi, ArtSci '14, practices in Grant Hall Wednesday night. Choi won the 2011 gold medal for violin, granted by the Royal Conservatory of Music.
Deanna Choi, ArtSci '14, practices in Grant Hall Wednesday night. Choi won the 2011 gold medal for violin, granted by the Royal Conservatory of Music.

Student Deanna Choi earned the highest violin examination score in Canada, beating out more than 100,000 students in every category of the annual exam.

Three weeks ago she received an email explaining she had been awarded the gold medal for violin performance at the Royal Conservatory of Music.

“I didn’t really believe it at first,” Choi, ArtSci ’14, said. “I knew what my mark was and I knew that I did decently but I didn’t imagine that it was actually the best mark.”

The practical examination took the form of an hour-long concert performance. She is now an associate of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, meaning that she has completed all grades in a chosen instrument.

In order to honour her achievement, Choi was invited to play at Koerner Hall in Toronto. She had previously performed at the venue with the National Youth Orchestra but this was her first time performing on her own.

“If you’re going to put in the time and effort … you need to have an intrinsic drive for it,” she said. “You can’t just be doing it because you want to get money or awards. I think that’s what distinguishes a passion from just an extracurricular activity.”

Choi began violin lessons at the age of five after watching her older sister play. When she was nine, she started entering competitions, including the Canadian Music Festival and the Kiwanis Music Festival.

Since then, Choi has won numerous national and provincial awards. Despite having competed in violin competitions since a young age, Choi said she still gets nervous when performing in front of an audience.

“You learn how to take anxiety nerves and turn them into adrenaline — boosting nerves,” she said “Once that adrenalin turns into positive energy, that’s what kicks your playing to the next level.”

Though Choi was accepted to McGill’s competitive music program two years ago, she chose to study psychology at Queen’s instead.

“I realized that I wanted to go to Queen’s and do something other than music,” Choi said. “I also realized that Queen’s itself is a really good fit for me.”

She added that she hasn’t ruled out the possibility of studying music in the future.

“There are post-undergraduate certificate programs that you can do,” Choi said. “I’ve definitely considered music psychology because there’s been a lot of development in music therapy and so on. We’ll see how things go. It’s nice that there is that option there.”

She isn’t enrolled in the music program at Queen’s, but Choi is still involved in the campus music community. She played in the pit orchestra for shows with Queen’s Student Opera Company and Queen’s Musical Theatre. A Kingston native, Choi has also performed with the Kingston Symphony since she was in Grade 11.

“I have no idea what direction I’m going to take music in,” Choi said. “I just know that I’d definitely like to keep it as a part of my life to whatever degree possible.”


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