Classical Pianist Soyeon Kate Lee

From The Times-News

It’s rare for Soyeon Kate Lee’s students at the City College of New York to have a classical music background.

“You’d be surprised; some of them have never seen a piano before, much less heard it played.

When I ask if they’ve ever listened to classical music, rarely does a hand raise. I tell them we’ll take this classical journey together. Exposure is what everyone needs when it comes to classical music,” Lee said in a recent phone interview from her apartment in New York; she is adjunct assistant professor at the school.

Lee grew up in Korea until fourth-grade and began taking piano lessons at the age of 6.

“I wasn’t a prodigy. I had to practice. But my parents never pushed me to practice,” she said.
“I just always loved it and they encouraged me in that regard.”

She attended a boarding arts academy in Michigan, which provided an intense musical environment.

Classical Pianist Soyeon Kate Lee

“Many people from there went on to Juilliard,” she said. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and the Artist Diploma from Juilliard and while there, earned every award granted to pianists including the Rachmaninoff Concerto Competition, two consecutive Gina Bachauer Scholarship competitions, Arthur Rubinstein Prize, Susan Rose Career Grant and the coveted William Petschek Piano Debut Award.

Nicole Lee, her younger sister, was a pop star in Korea who took a break and earned her law degree. Their parents still live in Korea and listened to a variety of music, including classical. Lee recently became an American citizen and is currently touring cities throughout the United States and overseas.

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Pianist Soyeon Kate Lee plays Iberia, Book 1 by Issac albeniz: