people playing string instruments

Summer String Academy - Professors

Our professors

Elaine Klimasko began her musical studies in Hamilton, Ontario at the age of four and continued her studies at the Toronto Royal Conservatory on a special string scholarship. She has studied in Canada, the United States and abroad and her teachers include Lorand Fenyves, Franco Gulli and Joseph Gingold.  Her distinguished career as an orchestral musician, soloist, chamber musician, teacher and adjudicator has taken her all over the world. 

She is a founding member of the National Arts Centre Orchestra and has appeared as a soloist with the Orchestra.  She is a well-known chamber musician and has performed with renowned artists such as Jaime Laredo, Anton Kuerti and William Preucil.  Elaine Klimasko has earned an international reputation as a dedicated teacher.  She leads a very active teaching career presenting masterclasses, coaching chamber music and orchestra musicians, serving on juries for competitions and teaching privately.  Her students are very frequently winners of competitions and hold important positions as chamber and orchestral musicians all over North America. In 2003 NACO Music Director Pinchas Zukerman asked her to launch the first Junior Young Artists Programme for the NAC Summer Music Institute.  This highly successful programme attracts very gifted students from Canada and abroad. 

Elaine Klimasko has also done some acting and has appeared in House of Luk and more recently Getting Along Famously

Elaine Klimasko

Powerful and finely nuanced interpretations, sumptuous sonorities, and a compelling stage presence are just a few of the hallmarks of internationally acclaimed violinist Timothy Chooi. A popular soloist and recitalist, he is sought after as much for his passionate performances as for his wide-ranging repertoire. Recent honors include Second Prize, Belgium’s world-renowned 2019 Queen Elisabeth Competition, First Prize, the 2018 Joseph Joachim International Violin Competition in Germany, and the First Prize, the 2018 Schadt Violin Competition in the USA, In 2018 Chooi also won the ‘Prix Yves Paternot’ of Switzerland's Verbier Festival, a prize which recognizes the most promising and accomplished musician of the annual Academy for young professional musicians, earning Chooi his future debut as a solo artist in the 2022 Verbier Festival.

Future engagements include returns to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra with Peter Oundjian, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra Ottawa, and the Belgian National Orchestra, as well as his debuts with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Russian National Orchestra and Mikhail Pletnev, DSO Berlin, Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester Frankfurt, Saarländisches Staatsorchester, and the Sichuan Symphony Orchestra. Upcoming recitals see Chooi performing in cities worldwide, including a European tour with Anne-Sophie Mutter.

Recent performances include engagement with The Belgian National Orchestra, Luxembourg Chamber Orchestra, and l'Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal; a live on-air recital on New York City’s WQXR classical radio station; and recital tours of Belgium and the United States. In addition to having already performed with every major orchestra in his home country of Canada, Timothy Chooi has also played with the Brussels Philharmonic under Stéphane Denève, with Santa Barbara Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Liége, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also made an extensive recital tour with Jeunesses Musicales du Canada, appeared at the Ravinia Festival, and made his Carnegie Hall debut.

In addition to his 2019 and 2018 awards, Timothy Chooi’s numerous honors include the third prize at the 2015 Michael Hill Violin Competition in New Zealand and Grand Prize at the 2010 Montreal Symphony Manulife Competition in Canada. He also won the EMCY Prize at the 2014 Yehudi Menuhin International Competition. and the Vadim Repin Scholarship Award in New York.

As a founding member of The VISION Collective, a three-year-old ensemble of musicians and composers that utilizes music to highlight refugee and immigrant voices and stories, raising awareness for the global refugee crisis, and brings together individuals from all walks of life together to create diverse and meaningful art, he is also a recipient of the 2020 Harold W. McGraw Family Foundation's The Robert Sherman Award for Music Education and Community Outreach.

Chooi studied at the Juilliard School under the tutelage of Catherine Cho. His mentors include Ida Kavafian, Pamela Frank, Pinchas Zukerman, and Patinka Kopec. He currently is enrolled in Juilliard’s prestigious Artist Diploma program studying with Catherine Cho and a Professional Studies candidate at the Kronberg Academy with Christian Tetzlaff and lives in Philadelphia, USA.

Timothy Chooi is a Professor of Violin at the University of Ottawa. He performs on the 1717 Windsor-Weinstein Stradivarius on a generous loan from the Canada Council for the Arts and is a recipient of the Nippon Music Foundation Rare Instrument Project from the Government of Japan.

Timothy Chooi

Praised for his passionate and poetic performances, acclaimed violinist Nikki Chooi has established himself as an artist of rare versatility. Described as “expressive, enchanting, and transcendent,” he has been featured at many international festivals with performances at the Marlboro Festival, Ravinia Festival, Rockport Chamber Music Festival, La Jolla Summerfest, Vancouver Recital Series, Moritzburg Festival, Kammermusik Utrecht, Dresden Music Festival, Olympus Festival in Russia, Musica Viva in Australia, Chamber Music New Zealand, and Fundación Beethoven in Chile. 

Nikki has received critical acclaim in recent engagements at the Harris Theatre in Chicago, Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, Carnegie Hall and Kauffman Center in New York, Koerner Hall in Toronto, Place des Arts in Montreal, as well as appearing as soloist with orchestras across Canada and internationally with the St. Petersburg State Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Wallonie, National Orchestra of Belgium, Auckland Philharmonia, Malaysian Philharmonic, and Hong Kong Philharmonic. 

Nikki is currently Concertmaster of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and has previously served as Concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He has appeared as Guest Concertmaster with the Houston Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, and Sydney Symphony. A former member of the multi-genre ensemble, Time for Three, the group collaborated with From the Top and Universal Music releasing an arrangement of Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” to record-breaking views on YouTube.

A passionate educator, Nikki has presented masterclasses at the San Francisco Conservatory, Morningside Music Program at the New England Conservatory, Orchestra of the Americas Academy, Sphinx Academy at the Curtis Institute of Music, Hong Kong Cultural Center, and the University of Auckland. A recipient of prizes at the Queen Elizabeth and Tchaikovsky Competitions, Nikki was the 1st Prize Winner of the Montreal Symphony's ManuLife Competition, the Klein International Strings Competition, and the Michael Hill International Violin Competition. 

An alum of Curtis Institute of Music, The Juilliard School, and The Mount Royal Conservatory, Nikki’s mentors included Ida Kavafian, Joseph Silverstein, Donald Weilerstein, and William van der Sloot.

He released his debut album of works by Prokofiev, Ravel, and Gershwin on the Atoll Label.

Nicky Chooi

Michael van der Sloot's first twelve years of study on the violin and then on the viola were with his brother William at the Medicine Hat College. He then completed his Bachelor and Masters of Music degrees on the viola at the University of British Columbia studying with Gerald Stanick. Other instructors include internationally renowned musicians such as Martha Katz, Karen Tuttle, Bernard Zaslav, Andrew Dawes and Donald McInnes Michael van der Sloot has had success at various solo and chamber competitions and toured throughout Western Canada as a soloist and chamber musician. In addition, van der Sloot was awarded the Johann Strauss Foundation Scholarship for study in Austria, where he pursued doctoral studies at the Mozarteum in Salzburg with Thomas Riebl. Michael van der Sloot played in various orchestras across Western Canada. While in Europe, he continued to perform with the Salzburg Chamber Soloists throughout Switzerland, Austria, Italy and France including a performance at the Theatre Rue Champs Ellysee in Paris and the Musikverein in Vienna. In addition to his performing, van der Sloot is a passionate teacher. He taught on faculty at the Medicine Hat College as Academy Director for 11 years; instructing violin, viola, chamber music, and chamber orchestra. Under his guidance, the institution gained international recognition through the success of its students at National and International competitions. van der Sloot then moved to Victoria, BC to take become Professor of Viola at Camosun College and String Department Head at the Victoria Conservatory of Music from 2010-2017. He also became Artistic Director of the Collegium Program for gifted young musicians. This program progressed to a standard receiving and international recognition. Many of his former students can now be found in music schools, symphonies and chamber groups throughout North America. Michael van der Sloot has had the pleasure of being a guest instructor at various institutions across Canada, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and the Central Conservatory in Beijing. He has instructed at summer camps and festivals, and enjoys adjudicating festivals at various cities throughout Canada.  Michael joined the faculty of the University of Ottawa in 2017.

Michael van der Sloot

Cellist Paul Marleyn tours regularly in North America, Europe and Asia. As a frequent participant in summer festivals including the Prussia Cove, Busan, Festival of the Sound, Domaine Forget, Casalmaggiore, Leicester and Ottawa international festivals, he collaborates with artists such as Boris Berman, Miriam Fried, James Somerville, Paul Neubauer, Marc-André Hamelin, Steven Dann, Joshua Bell, and with members of the Tokyo, Vermeer, New Zealand, St. Lawrence and Hagen quartets. He has appeared as soloist with the London Philharmonia, Belgrade Philharmonic, European Chamber, Winnipeg Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Symphony Nova Scotia, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, Thunder Bay Symphony and Manitoba Chamber orchestras. The Artistic Director of Winnipeg’s Agassiz Chamber Music Festival since 2000, and the International Cello Festival of Canada since 2011, Paul was the cellist in Trio Hochelaga from 2006-2012. He has made several compact disc recordings on the United Records, CALA, ATMA, Signum Classics, CBC and RCA Victor labels. From 1993-7, Paul was principal cellist of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and has served at professor of cello at the University of Manitoba, and more recently at the University of Ottawa, where he now mentors an award-winning studio of young cellists.

Paul Marleyn

Born in Toronto, Canada, Travis Harrison is a graduate of Montreal's McGill University. His post-graduate work was with the National Arts Centre's Institute for Orchestral Studies while he concurrently completed a Master's degree in performance at the University of Ottawa in 2012 under the guidance of Joel Quarrington. Travis has happily ended a 6-year tenure with Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, having joined in Fall of 2013, and most recently has been engaged as a freelance orchestral and chamber musician in his home town of Toronto, as well as professor of double bass at the University of Ottawa. Travis has also been serving the bass community as a board member of the International Society of Bassists since 2017.

He makes regular appearances as an extra musician with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, an institution to which he owes many of his most memorable artistic experiences; the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, where he served as both principal and section player; and as principal bass for numerous productions across Canada. Recently, Travis’ artistic endeavours have been generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Manitoba Arts Council, and the Winnipeg Arts Council, for which he is very grateful.

As a teacher, Travis has served as a faculty member of the Manitoba Conservatory of Music and Art, Carleton University, the University of Manitoba, and Sistema Winnipeg. Travis currently maintains a private studio based out of Toronto, and also offers lessons taught online. He has given masterclasses at the University of Toronto, Brandon University, and University of Ottawa; and acted as a mentor to students at the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, the Belfountain Festival,  and the Lunenburg Academy of Music Performance. He jointly published a first-of-it's-kind eBook with Joel Quarrington, called the Canadian School of Double Bass. It is an in-depth study of Maestro Quarrington’s modernized approach to playing the double bass, complete with video and audio examples, making it a truly cutting-edge technique book.

Travis is the proud owner of two very fine double basses: an old English bass attributed to Vincenzo Panormo, circa 1810; and a bass he commissioned from contemporary Canadian master luthier Mario Lamarre, completed in December 2018. Travis makes music on these instruments with the fine bows of Canadian bow maker Bernard Walke.

While not playing music, the art of beer making, wood working, and audio/video production take up much of Travis' time.

Travis Harrison

Frédéric Lacroix has performed in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia as a soloist, chamber musician, and collaborative pianist. As such, he has performed with many important musicians, including Branford Marsalis, Johannes Moser, Kathleen Battle, Alexander Rudin and some of Canada’s most noted musicians. He has made regular radio appearances on the Canadian CBC and SRC or the American NPR. Following the University of Ottawa’s purchase of a fortepiano in 1997, Frédéric has devoted part of his time to the study and performance of music on period keyboard instruments, for which he was recognized as the Westfield Center Performing Scholar for the 2008-09 and has presented numerous concerts (solo, chamber music, with orchestra) in Canada and the United States as harpsichordist and fortepianist. Recently, he curated, as fortepianist (and composer), the late night concerts of the National Arts Center Focus Beethoven Festival. Although Frédéric performs most frequently in chamber music settings, he performs regularly as soloist, with orchestra or in recital.

Intrigued by the seemingly infinite diversity of new music, Frédéric has enjoyed collaborating with composers and performers in the premiere of a number of Canadian and American works. Frédéric is also active as a composer, having composed for the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, the Society of American Music, the Canadian University Music Society, the Choeur Classique de l’Outaouais and other noted Canadian musicians. One of his latest works, a sonatina for oboe and piano is featured on a collection of Canadian of music for oboe and piano with Chip Hamann that was released in June 2017. He is since performed and composed on a few other more recording projects, mostly devoted to the works of Canadian composers.

Much in demand as collaborative artist, teacher, adjudicator and composer, he currently teaches piano and composition at the University of Ottawa. He holds degrees from the University of Montreal, the University of Ottawa, and Cornell University, where he completed his Doctorate degree in keyboard performance practice with Malcolm Bilson. His other teachers include Marc Durand, Cynthia Floyd, Andrew Tunis, Jean-Paul Sévilla and Monique Collet-Samyn.

Frédéric Lacroix

Canadian pianist Carson Becke has performed worldwide. He holds a doctorate in musicology from the University of Oxford, and is the director of Pontiac Enchanté, a concert series in Quebec. His recordings can be heard on Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube. He forms one half of Duo Octavian, a two-piano ensemble that he co-founded with fellow pianist Suren Barry in 2016. Duo Octavian seeks to expand the two-piano repertoire with their own arrangements of various works and with arrangements/commissions by other performers/composers.  Carson is committed to raising awareness about climate change and other environmental challenges through music.  He is enacting those ideas through his directorship of the Pontiac Enchanté concert series: environmental sustainability is one of the cornerstones of its mission. Carson lived in the United Kingdom for fifteen years: first in London, and then in Oxford.  In 2019 he moved home to Ottawa, Canada, where he currently lives with his partner Madeline, and their dog Jerry.

Carson Becke

Midori is a visionary artist, activist and educator who explores and builds connections between music and the human experience and breaks with traditional boundaries, which makes her one of the most outstanding violinists of our time. She will mark the 40th anniversary of her professional debut this season, celebrating a remarkable career that began in 1982, when she debuted with the New York Philharmonic at age 11. 

In concert around the world, Midori transfixes audiences, bringing together graceful precision and intimate expression.  Midori has performed with, among others, the London, Chicago, and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras; the Sinfonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks; the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics; the Mahler Chamber Orchestra; and Festival Strings Lucerne. She has collaborated with such outstanding musicians as Claudio Abbado, Emanuel Ax, Leonard Bernstein, Jonathan Biss, Constantinos Carydis, Christoph Eschenbach, Daniel Harding, Paavo Järvi, Mariss Jansons, YoYo Ma, Susanna Mälkki, Joana Mallwitz, Antonello Manacorda, Zubin Mehta, Tarmo Peltokoski, Donald Runnicles, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and Omer Meir Wellber. 

In recognition of her work as an artist and humanitarian, she serves as a United Nations Messenger of Peace. Last season, she participated in a panel discussion, hosted by The Peace Studio, about what music can teach us about peaceful communication, alongside Joyce DiDonato and Wynton Marsalis; she delivered the Kim and Judy Davis Dean’s Lecture in the Humanities at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute (about non-profit leadership and volunteering); and she was awarded the Asian Cultural Council’s John D. Rockefeller 3rd Award for her contributions to the field of arts and cultural exchange. In 2022, Midori was also awarded the Brahms Prize by the Schleswig-Holstein Brahms Society. In recognition of her lifetime of contributions to American culture, Midori is a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors and was celebrated by Yo-Yo Ma, Bette Midler and John Lithgow, among others, during the May 2021 Honors ceremonies in Washington, DC. 

Midori was born in Osaka in 1971 and began her violin studies with her mother, Setsu Goto, at an early age. In 1982, conductor Zubin Mehta invited the then 11-year-old Midori to perform with the New York Philharmonic in the orchestra’s annual New Year’s Eve concert, where the foundation was laid for her following career. Midori is the Dorothy Richard Starling Chair in Violin Studies at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and is a Distinguished Visiting Artist at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. 

Midori plays the 1734 Guarnerius del Gesù ‘ex-Huberman’. She uses four bows – two by Dominique Peccatte, one by François Peccatte and one by Paul Siefried.

Midori Gotō

First-prize wins at the Primrose International and American String Teachers Association Viola Competitions launched Kirsten Docter on a career that includes a 23-year tenure with the Cavani Quartet, concerts on major series and festivals throughout North America, Europe, and Australia, and numerous appointments as a master class clinician and teacher. 

During her time as violist of the award-winning Cavani String Quartet, Docter performed at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Kennedy Center, Festival de L’Epau in France, and the Honolulu Chamber Music Society. She appeared in features on the public radio programs Performance Today and St. Paul Sunday and television programs on NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS. 

Docter’s festival appearances include performances at the Aspen Music Festival, Banff Centre for the Arts, Madeline Island, Mimir (in Texas and Melbourne, Australia), Sitka Summer Music, Interlochen, Kneisel Hall, Yale Summer School of Music and Art at Norfolk, and the Perlman Music Program. She has collaborated with Itzhak Perlman, Jaime Laredo, Alisa Weilerstein, Stephanie Blythe, Nathan Gunn, Alessio Bax, and members of the Cleveland, Juilliard, Takács, Emerson, Borodin, and Amadeus string quartets. Her work can be heard on the Azica, Albany, New World, and Gasparo labels.  

Docter formerly served on the chamber music and viola faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music and has given numerous master classes at universities and music schools. She has been a jury member of the Primrose International Viola, Fischoff National Chamber Music, and Sphinx competitions. 

In addition to her position at Oberlin, she is on the viola faculty of the Perlman Music Program and the Madeline Island Music Camp.

Kirsten Docter