Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Katherine Lee

Katherine Lee.  Photos by Faith Bernstein.
Katherine Lee ’14 will perform at a recital on March 2. Photos by Faith Bernstein.

This week, The Pioneer sat down with violinist Katherine Lee. A junior English/music double major who hails from Honolulu, Hawaii, Lee spends most of her time adjusting to the cold, practicing her violin, learning piano and helping out Professor Sharon Alker as a Writing Fellow for the Encounters program. Lee’s recital will be Saturday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Chism Auditorium.

Pioneer: How long have you been playing the violin?

Katherine Lee: Since the third grade, so how many years is that? (Laughs.) Twelve years, I think. My elementary school had a violin  program, and it was free. You just had to sign up and they had a violin there ready for you. You just had to turn in a form. For me, it all sort of snowballed from there. It’s been a long ride, but it’s been good.

Pio: So, tell us some more about your upcoming recital; you’ve had a couple road bumps.

KL: Yeah, the timing has been a little off. You pick your recital repertoire over the fall, sometimes even the spring of the previous year, and you practice over the summer, winter break, whenever you can. But you just never know what you will be dealt academically––you might get hit with an extra hard semester. And when that happens, for me, the playing kind of goes down. So it’s a kind of give and take thing. We had originally planned for my performing on Feb. 2, but we ended up moving it just to make sure it would be a comfortable performance.

Pio: I’m sure you’ve done a lot of recitals over 12 years, though.

KL: It’s really interesting, actually. In high school, I really only did performances where I sort of got up and played a piece, and then a whole bunch of other people got up and played theirs. So I’ve never done my own recital. It is different when you have to think about the various changes between the pieces, memorizing three or four different songs and such. It’s a whole new experience for me.

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Pio: Would you tell us what you will be playing?

KL: Yeah, we have a bunch of different composers; you try and pick things from different genres. The major pieces I’ll be doing are by J.S. Bach, a really religious and strict composer, and then Amy Beach, who is a famous female composer who tends to be really underperformed. Then a piece by Igor Stravinsky, which is a fun little introspective piece, and then the big one, which I’m a little nervous about, is a Paganini.

Pio: Wow! So, would you say that Whitman has helped you to grow as an artist?

KL: (Laughs.) That’s not a big question or anything! I couldn’t really tell you how it’s helped me as an artist, but I do think it’s really helped me to grow as a person. The music department here at Whitman is so supportive. As I’ve been trying to work through this recital in particular, they’ve just been so understanding and helpful. It’s been amazing to know that whatever I chose, like when I decided to push [the performance] back, that they would have my back and be behind me all the way.

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Pio: Where do you see yourself after Whitman?

KL: I think I’ll be teaching somewhere. The details are kind of more up in the air about that, what age group and such, but I think I’d like to teach college students, either English or music. I think music will always be in my life, though, in some capacity. I can say that it’s always been nice, to have the balance between English and music. They are so different, and I react to them in different ways. English is so much more logical for me, more confined, and music pushes me to be more in touch with my emotional side.

Pio: What makes a student recital special?

KL: Performing has made me realize just how much support you can get from people. So I really encourage everybody to go to a recital this year, anybody’s. People have really different performing experiences, some people like performing for their friends, other people are more comfortable performing for strangers. I think it’s really special to be performing for a room full of people, I appreciate it if people come, and I know other performers do as well.

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