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autoharp ray choi.jpeg

Choi is one of the world's top autoharp players, and he demonstrated it at the 2017 Mountain Laurel Autoharp Championship, according to his peers.

He has spent the past 30 years developing his expertise for the autoharp — a musical instrument consisting of a flat wooden sound box with numerous strings stretched across it, placed horizontally and played with the fingers and a plectrum.

"Without passion I couldn't do it," said Choi, who owns Grace Music in Tustin. "Passion made me a success, and it is wonderful. I am a very blessed person."

During the competition — held in June outside Newport, Penn. — each contestant plays two tunes in the first round and a sequestered panel judges them. The top five go on to a second round, where the contestants play two more tunes. Scores are then tabulated to determine first-, second- and third-place winners.

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Ray Choi Takes First Place at Walnut Valley Music Festival!

In addition to winning the 2011 International Autoharp Championship at Mt. Laurel in Pennsylvania on June 24,m, Ray is also the 2011 International Autoharp Champion at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS.  (Only three other champions have won at both locations the same year!)  Ray showcased his new technique, his Hummingbird Tremolo as he so aptly has named it, which has created a new dimension to the beauty of autoharp playing. His competition was great, as Tina Louise Barr placed 2nd and Mickey Brashaer came in 3rd.  It was to a standing ovation that he received his accolades.

Ray first competed in Winfield in 1991, and though he didn’t place at that time, he was highly motivated and inspired by the other contestants to succeed.  It is this single-minded, determined focus, along with his passion to play, that drove him to practice the thousands of hours that were necessary to develop his unique technique over the years, sometimes practicing 13 hours a day, along with working at his store, performing, teaching, and building his beautiful autoharps.   A dream of a lifetime has been accomplished!

Ray Choi Takes First Place at MLAG!

Ray has the distinct honor of receiving the 1st Place Championship at the Mt. Laurel Autoharp Gathering in June, 2011. This was achieved on his second competition at Mt. Laurel, a most difficult feat to accomplish in only two attempts. His four songs were played with precision, incredible sensitivity to dynamics and superb technique.

His performance showcased his "Hummingbird Tremolo," an original technique that Ray has developed and mastered over a period of many years, a fast fluttering movement of the finger tips once thought impossible to achieve on the autoharp. Each of the four songs he performed at MLAG demonstrated his mastery of this amazingly fast and beautiful technique.

A CD of this event from MLAG 2011 will be made available later in the year. Other opportunities to see Ray's Hummingbird Tremolo demonstrated will be at upcoming workshops and at his monthly autoharp gatherings in Southern California.

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