17: Colleen Lee
Colleen Lee’s flight into the elite ranks of classical music seemed pre-ordained. As a precocious toddler, Lee took up piano with such unusual fervor that at age six she was admitted to the APA for serious study. She quickly proved herself a star pupil under instructor extraordinaire Eleanor Wong. With her formidable work ethic firmly established, Lee graduated valedictorian of her class.
International appearances and critical acclaim steadily followed, culminating in 2005, when Lee performed at one of the world’s foremost classical music events, the Chopin International Piano Competition, in Poland. She took sixth prize and became the first Hongkonger to win an award in the event’s 80-year history. Lee also earned distinction that year as the only female prize-winner.
Lee is admired for her precise, elegant phrasing, rich bursts of colour, and exquisitely controlled pacing throughout a piece. In the years to come, the plaudits will surely keep coming, but Lee says her primary goal when performing is to touch the audience as the music touches her. “To me, everything from the heart is most important.”
Colleen Lee next plays in Hong Kong with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, November 28-29, at the Cultural Centre.