Kristin Lee, violinist
“... she delivered a powerfully constructed and played programme, one of the most satisfying recitals that I’ve heard in years.” – The Strad
“Lee brought a perfect balance of finesse and vigor to the piece, giving a driven, commanding performance that demanded and got rapt attention from the audience.”
– Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Violinist Kristin Lee … was operating on such a high level that the music carried the day.”
– The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Violinist Kristin Lee was simply spectacular…This is a violinist who has everything: superlative technique to burn, interpretative mastery and incredible sensitivity to the various styles of music she performed.” – The Advocate
“[Kristin Lee’s] technique is flawless, and she has a sense of melodic shaping that reflects an artistic maturity... ” – St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A recipient of the 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant, as well as a top prizewinner of the 2012 Walter W. Naumburg Competition and the Astral Artists’ 2010 National Auditions, Kristin Lee is a violinist of remarkable versatility and impeccable technique who enjoys a vibrant career as a soloist, recitalist, chamber musician, and educator. “Her technique is flawless, and she has a sense of melodic shaping that reflects an artistic maturity,” writes the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and The Strad reports, “She seems entirely comfortable with stylistic diversity, which is one criterion that separates the run-of-the-mill instrumentalists from true artists.”
In addition to her dynamic performing career, Lee was recently appointed to the faculty of University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music as Assistant Professor of Violin. She is the artistic director of Emerald City Music in Seattle, a chamber music series she co-founded in 2015. Also an accomplished chamber musician, Kristin Lee is a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, performing at Lincoln Center in New York and on tour with CMS throughout each season, as well as a member of Camerata Pacifica in Santa Barbara, sitting as The Bernard Gondos Chair.
Kristin Lee has appeared as soloist with leading orchestras including The Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony, Tacoma Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Nordic Chamber Orchestra of Sweden, Ural Philharmonic of Russia, Korean Broadcasting Symphony, Guiyang Symphony Orchestra of China, Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional of Dominican Republic, and many others. She has performed on the world’s finest concert stages, including Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, the Kennedy Center, Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Steinway Hall’s Salon de Virtuosi, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Ravinia Festival, Philadelphia’s World Cafe Live, (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York, the Louvre Museum in Paris, Washington, D.C.’s Phillips Collection, and Korea’s Kumho Art Gallery.
Recent and upcoming highlights include concerts presented by the San Francisco Symphony with Itzhak Perlman, Amarillo Symphony, Chamber Music Sedona, a tour with the Silk Road Ensemble, Music@Menlo, Parlance Chamber Concerts, Moab Music Festival, Music in the Vineyards, Town Hall Seattle, Lyra Music Festival, Olympic Music Festival, North Carolina New Music Initiative, and the Leicester International Music Festival, as well as performances with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Camerata Pacifica.
Lee’s many honors include awards from the 2015 Trondheim Chamber Music Competition, 2011 Trio di Trieste Premio International Competition, the SYLFF Fellowship, Dorothy DeLay Scholarship, the Aspen Music Festival’s Violin Competition, the New Jersey Young Artists’ Competition, and the Salon de Virtuosi Scholarship Foundation. She is also the unprecedented First Prize winner of three concerto competitions at The Juilliard School – in the Pre-College Division in 1997 and 1999, and in the College Division in 2007.
Born in Seoul, Lee began studying the violin at the age of five, and within one year won First Prize at the prestigious Korea Times Violin Competition. In 1995, she moved to the United States and continued her musical studies under Sonja Foster. Two years later, she became a student of Catherine Cho and Dorothy DeLay in The Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division. In January 2000, she was chosen to study with Itzhak Perlman. Lee holds a Master’s degree from The Juilliard School.
Violinist Kristin Lee is pleased to announce new concert programming for future seasons, offered for 2021-22 and beyond.
She also remains strongly committed to making music during these challenging times, and can offer high-quality virtual livestreamed or pre-recorded performances with live Q&A sessions. In addition, Kristin Lee is available to perform live concerts for socially distanced audiences in the Northeast throughout the 2020-2021 season.
A native of Seoul, Korea, Kristin emigrated to the U.S. at the age of seven. During her childhood, playing the violin was a refuge from bullying and racism for Kristin — she moved to the U.S. not speaking any English, and feels the violin became her voice. As a foreign-born citizen of America, Kristin was compelled to select this repertoire to express her pride in the country she now calls her own, and offers these works that have a distinct and recognizable sound of American music and its rich history — Jeremy Jordan’s Fish Me a Dream; Jonathan Ragonese’s Non-Poem 4; Florence Price's Adoration; H.T. Burleigh’s Southland Sketches; Ravel’s Violin Sonata No. 2; Patrick Castillo's Cirque; Thelonious Monk’s Monk's Mood; Molly Joyce’s Lean Back and Release; Kevin Puts’ Air; John Novacek’s Four Rags; George Gershwin’s But Not For Me; JJ Johnson’s Lament; and Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer. American Journey encapsulates both Kristin Lee's journey as an American, as well as the journeys of the composers in the United States.
Kristin is joined by acclaimed multi-faceted pianist, Jeremy Jordan. The audience is also invited to participate in engaging conversations with Kristin and Jeremy throughout the performance.
Kristin and Jeremy have recorded a corresponding album featuring several of these works that will be released in 2021-2022.
This program celebrates French classical music from the Romantic era through the Impressionist and Neo-Classical eras. Debussy’s violin sonata was the last piece he composed before his death in 1918. Though composed while Debussy was enduring emotional turmoil due to his terminal illness and the impending world war, the work evokes a lighthearted, charming mood. Franck’s sonata was composed for master violinist Eugène Ysaÿe, who performed the work frequently over the next 40 years, and enjoyed telling audiences that he always played it “con amore” because it was given to him as a wedding present. Inspired by the Spanish Civil War & WWII, Poulenc’s sonata incorporates quotes from music which was banned by the Nazi reign, protesting the German Occupation of France. The work’s sudden ending symbolizes the violent death of Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, to whose memory the work is dedicated. Saint-Saëns’ sonata pays homage to Beethoven’s ideal of sonata composition while showcasing his distinct “French sound.” In its inception, several violinists complained about the work’s highly virtuosic demands, which caused Saint-Saëns to eventually revise the work just enough to satisfy the performers while still showcasing extremely technical brilliance. Ravel was so strongly inspired by contemporary American composer and pianist, George Gershwin, that he wrote his Violin Sonata No. 2 in the style of “blues.”
Kristin Lee offers a musical exploration of the inspirations of five masterful composers. César Franck’s compositions often exhibit influence from his contemporaries Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner, and his Violin Sonata is no exception. Franck was inspired to write the piece by violinist and composer Eugène Ysaÿe’s upcoming wedding, and the piece served as a wedding present to Ysaÿe and his wife. Late in his life, Ysaÿe composed his second violin sonata for his dear friend, violinist Jacques Thibaud. The sonata is reflective of the powerful affect that Bach’s compositions had on Ysaÿe, as he emulates Bach’s counterpoint styles and even incorporates direct quotes from Bach’s music. Vivian Fung’s Birdsong was composed for Kristin Lee, and as the title suggests, the work is inspired by birdcalls. Those influences can be heard through light, quick, and virtuosic passages in both the violin and piano. Clara Schumann’s Three Romances are some of the last works she ever wrote, as she turned her attention towards performing and editing her husband Robert Schumann’s music after his death. In Three Romances, Clara lovingly references the theme from Robert’s first violin sonata. Composer and violinist Pablo de Sarasate crafted several famous operas into concert fantasies for violin and orchestra or piano. His fantasy on Bizet’s Carmen encapsulates the opera’s brilliance through elaborate and virtuosic arrangements while maintaining the palpable passion of the work.
Chamber Music from Spain
Violinist Kristin Lee and a small ensemble of renowned musicians lead listeners on a journey with an evening of sensual and virtuosic music of Spain. Traditional Spanish music is very well known for its vibrant and unique sound that often accompanies dances, but is not frequently heard in the classical realm. Originally inspired by the Greek Christians back in the 6th century, Spanish classical music has taken many turns, resulting in great popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Celebrated Spanish composers Manuel de Falla, Pablo de Sarasate, Enrique Granados, Joaquín Turina, and Fernando Jaumandreu Obradors honored the typical harmonies and rhythmic integrity of traditional Spanish music and incorporated them into their compositions.
Photo by Lauren Desberg