Giving Voice to the Violin

Posted by cservaes on September 19, 2011 in Alumni, Music Sang Young Lee is from Busan, South Korea. After many years of study on the piano, her teacher persuaded her to try the violin. She experienced an instant bonding with the instrument. “I loved the violin voice. It really touched my heart,” said Lee. Starting the violin at age 12 is considered late, so it is even more remarkable that when Ottawa University held auditions in Korea, Lee was awarded a four-year scholarship. Lee spent her first year at Ottawa University in ESL classes, taking violin lessons and participating in orchestra. Since OU accepted her credits from her year at a Korean university, she was able to begin regular coursework her sophomore year and graduate after a regular four-year progression with a BA in Music. Lee has been an impressive asset to the OU music program. Steven McDonald, director of orchestral activities, said, “She has simply been our finest and most visible student performer. Her work ethic is impeccable, and her practice regimen formidable, both illustrative of her dedication to music and her studies.” Called on numerous times to perform at Convocation, Commencement and various gatherings both on and off campus, Lee also represented Ottawa University at the regional conference of the American Baptist Churches held in Junction City, Kansas. In addition, she performed two solo recitals (junior and senior) and appeared as a soloist with the OU Orchestra. Those achievements compelled the Music Department at The College to create a new award called The Outstanding Music Student Award to honor Lee’s contributions and excellence while at OU. Previously, the Skilton Music Club had offered such an award; however, the Club was disbanded several years ago. Lee provided the perfect opportunity for the Music Department to reintroduce the honor. When asked about the reason for her success, she simply shared, “Practice is the only way to improving.” She regularly spends three to four hours a day in practice, but just as often spends six to seven hours. She appreciates her Ottawa University violin teachers, Noemi Miloradovic and Chun-Chien Chuang, for their excellence and helpfulness as “coaches.” This fall, Lee will begin a Master of Music degree program at the Cincinnati Conservatory as a violin performance major. Very few students from liberal arts institutions are accepted, and she has been awarded a substantial scholarship. Studying in a foreign language has been a challenge for Lee. She has leaned heavily on her friends in the Korean Church in Lawrence. “We share about our lives as Christians, and when I was sick or lonely, my friends helped me,” she said. Lee spent the summer as a counselor at a music camp in Pennsylvania. After graduate school, she hopes to play with an orchestra, though she also loves to teach and would like to get a doctorate and earn a professorship.