Meet the Musician: Associate Concertmaster Eric Lee

Where are you from originally?

I was born and raised in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. My family came to the U.S. from Taiwan a few years before I was born.

What is your position in the orchestra?

I am the Associate Concertmaster and sit with the Concertmaster on the front desk of the First Violin section.

When did you join the KCOHO?

I joined the KCOHO in 1998. That year, I started a little later into the opera season because I was on a European tour with the Saint Louis Symphony. My first opera here was Samson and Delilah with Placido Domingo conducting. Hard to believe it’s already been that long.

On stage at the Musikverein in Vienna with the Saint Louis Symphony in 1998.

When did you start playing the violin and what made you chose the instrument?

I started playing the violin around age 4. My older sister was already playing violin and the story goes that whenever she would play or practice in the house, I would always gravitate to her with fascination and would mimic her playing. My parents had no choice but to sign me up as well!

Around a year and a half carrying around my sister's violin.

Where did you do your training?

When I first started, I was very lucky to live in a town where the state university had one of the best Suzuki programs in the country. I studied with the legendary Margery Aber, one of the pioneers of the Suzuki Method here in the U.S. For college, I went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for my Bachelor of Music degree and the Juilliard School in NYC for my Master of Music degree.

What has been your favorite musical experience with the KCOHO?

Lots of amazing musical experiences for me in the last 20 years to pick just one, but I would have to say that the Opera’s Japan Tour in 2002 was definitely one of my favorites. The Japanese people are fanatical about opera and the fact that we had two of The Three Tenors singing on that tour created a huge buzz. There were sold out performances and we were treated like rock stars. The Ring Cycle in 2016 was another one just for the sheer level of difficulty and also for how phenomenal the orchestra sounded night after night. Another one would be performing the tango Por Una Cabeza at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2016 with our Concertmaster and other musicians on stage in a tribute to Al Pacino. And I would also have to say that any performance with our former Music Director the late Heinz Fricke, was ALWAYS very special. He was a great musician.

With Placido Domingo in 2011 after his final vocal performance of Gluck's opera Iphigénie en Tauride and also his last season as General Director of the Washington National Opera.

Performing the tango Por Una Cabeza for the Al Pacino tribute at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2016.

What do you do when you aren't playing the violin?

I LOVE to travel. Strangely enough, I’ve been lucky to have traveled to so many different places because of my violin. Europe, Russia, Central and South America, Asia, Canada, and the U.S. You could also call me a foodie and I love all kinds of food from different cultures. The traveling and food interests go perfectly hand in hand for me. I also enjoy cooking at home. I’m a big football fan. (GO PACKERS!!!) I love to play tennis and follow the men’s pro tour closely, although I haven’t played as much in recent years due to a few minor ailments. I also just love being outdoors and enjoying the beauty of nature.

9/11 Memorial Concert in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.