We are delighted to profile our cellist Priscilla Lee because we love making music and spending time with her, and think you will enjoy getting to know her better, too. Priscilla will perform at our Mozart and Schubert Spring Festival on Sunday, June 3. A graduate of Curtis, Priscilla is a highly respected chamber musician who performs in the Naumburg Award-winning Trio Cavatina, which she founded with violinist Harumi Rhodes and pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute. She was a member of Lincoln Center’s Chamber Music Society Two and has performed at the Marlboro, Santa Fe, Seattle, Delaware, St. Denis in Paris, Kingston, Lexington and Taos Festivals. She is a recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant, and premiered Osvaldo Golijov’s “Ayre” with Dawn upshaw, soprano, in performances in New York, Boston, London, and Paris.
Throughout our interview I was interested to learn new things about my friend Priscilla.
Mimi Stillman: What was studying at Curtis like for you?
Priscilla Lee: Curtis was an incredible and enriching experience for me. I fell in love with playing chamber music. Mostly because I wanted to play with as many people as I could (everyone was so talented!), but also because my dear teacher, the late David Soyer, was an incredible force in the Guarneri String Quartet. I learned so much from him. He defined the cellists’ role as being the bass line and he knew how to support the melodies of the upper strings with such character and beauty. From my first year at Curtis (I was there for 5 years), I think I played in at least 6-8 chamber groups a semester. I definitely spent more hours rehearsing chamber music than practicing by myself!
Mimi: You’re a member of the highly acclaimed Trio Cavatina. How did the ensemble come about?
Priscilla: When we founded Trio Cavatina in early 2005, Ieva, Harumi and I were all living in New York City. We knew each other from before (Ieva and I were at Curtis and Mannes together, Harumi and Ieva knew each other from Kneisel Hall, a festival in Maine). We were all at the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont together in 2003. We hung out a lot that summer, and when Ieva approached me with the idea of forming a piano trio in the fall, we naturally thought of asking Harumi to be our violinist. We met a couple of times to read through some Mozart and Haydn trios, and while sipping tea around the kitchen table we decided to form Trio Cavatina.
Mimi: Who are your favorite composers?
Priscilla: That is a hard one! There are too many to name but I love Beethoven (he was truly a genius; to me his music comes straight from God). I also love Schubert and Bach.