Two students to perform in LA

March 14, 2019 — by Alex Wang

Senior cellist Thomas Lim and junior violinist Christine Lee will be among the talented young artists playing classical music at Schoenberg Hall in UCLA from March 26-31.

Both Lee and Lim, first chair of the respective instruments in the school’s Saratoga Strings orchestra, were recently named to be a part of the YoungArts Los Angeles exhibition. The event showcases artists from a variety of fields, including music, film, dance, theater, literature and visual and design arts. It also offers young artists opportunities to work with mentor artists in master classes throughout the week.

To qualify for this exhibition, Lee and Lim each sent in four recordings of classical music across different time periods and written by different composers, which helps judges make a holistic evaluation of each candidate’s full musical ability. The main aspects focused on by judges are technique and musicality, Lee said.

For his pieces, Lim needed to send in a movement of a cello suite by Bach, a classical sonata usually written by Beethoven, a first movement of a concerto and a work written since 1950 to represent more contemporary styles of music.

“I took a lot of time preparing for these recordings from March 2018 to October,” Lim said. “I spent approximately ten hours recording the four pieces.”

Finalists of the competition were invited to the National YoungArts Week in Miami in January and Lee and Lim both received Merit recognition and were then invited to the regional exhibition in Los Angeles.

“I was super excited to go to LA but pretty scared because there’s a lot of pressure to play really well there, but I can’t wait,” Lee said.

For Lim’s performance, he will be playing the Beethoven Sonata he submitted, as well as a Schumann Piano Quintet and a commissioned piece written by one of the YoungArts winners in musical composition.

During the exhibition, Lee said she is planning to perform pieces from her solo repertoire that were chosen by the organizers of YoungArts Los Angeles, as well as other chamber pieces. To prepare, Lee said that she just needs to practice the pieces assigned to her “as best as she can.”

Lim’s cello career started at age 6 but he actually quit for a couple of years when he was 10. After he moved to the U.S. from Korea, he began to get very serious about cello and practiced intensively. Then, right before he entered high school, Lim spent seven weeks of his summer at the Meadowmount School of Music where he practiced for more than five hours per day, and he improved tremendously over the course of those seven weeks.

For her part, Lee started playing the violin at age 5. She picked up on the instrument in order to differentiate herself from her sister, who was playing the piano. Over the years and through countless hours of practice, Lee has been able to achieve many accolades. Current concertmaster of the California Youth Symphony’s Senior Orchestra, Lee was also accepted into the National Youth Orchestra and is touring Europe with that group this summer.

“I think aside from talent, the thing about instruments is that you need to put a lot of time and practice into it because there's the muscle memory and physical aspect of playing,” she said.

Initially, practicing was tough for Lee, she said, and it was her mother who pushed her to continue. As she kept going, though, she found that music led her to have “amazing experiences” and meet mentors who inspired her to keep practicing and improving on her own.

“Music is an amazing way to express your emotions, and it's really fun exploring all the different possibilities out there to create that sound or feeling that you want to,” Lee said.

In the future, Lee said that although she is unsure about what her college major will be, she knows she definitely does not want to stop playing music.

Similarly, for Lim, he said he does not know exactly what he will be studying in college, but there is the possibility that he may pursue it in college, depending on where he is accepted.

“I know that in whatever capacity, music will continue to be in my life, whether or not I pursue it in college or beyond,” he said.

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