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Cello Chat with Host Dr. Benjamin Whitcomb and guest Dr. Cora Swenson Lee

About the Episode 

This week I chat with Dr. Cora Swenson Lee. She is currently serving as Instructional Assistant Professor of Cello at Illinois State University. She also is a cellist and baroque cellist who performs actively around the United States.

Meet the Guest

Praised by the San Francisco Classical Voice for playing "with maturity and panache," Dr. Cora Swenson Lee is a cellist and baroque cellist who performs actively around the United States. She holds a Doctorate of Music in Cello Performance and Bachelors Degree in Cello Performance with highest distinction from the Eastman School of Music, as well as a Masters Degree in Cello Performance from Boston University College of Fine Arts.

A passionate educator, Dr. Swenson Lee is currently Instructional Assistant Professor of Cello at Illinois State University and the director of the Eastman Cello Institute. She has previously held appointments at Bucknell University, Illinois Wesleyan University, musiConnects, the Youth and Muse Festival, and the Hochstein School of Music and Dance. During her doctoral studies she served as a teaching assistant to Alan Harris and as a secondary lesson teacher at the Eastman School of music. Dr. Swenson Lee has also taught chamber music, orchestral sectionals, and graduate courses at the University of Rochester and Nazareth College.

Dr. Swenson Lee is an ardent chamber musician and recitalist. After a performance of Mendelssohn's String Octet, the Boston Musical Intelligencer stated "Swenson Lee, whom I had not heard previously, was a treat to discover..." She was awarded first prize in Instrumental Performance (professional division) of the 2019-2020 American Prize. In the 2014-2015 season Dr. Swenson Lee was named a Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Fellow at Emmanuel Music. Dr. Swenson Lee’s early music ensemble, Trio Speranza, concertizes around the United States each season, and in 2014 won the Presentation Prize at Early Music America's Baroque Performance Competition. During her time as cellist of the Boston Public Quartet, she was part of the Celebrity Series of Boston initiative Artists in Community, which brings free concerts and school presentations to several Boston communities.

Dr. Swenson Lee performs regularly on concert series including Kings Chapel Recitals, Emmanuel Music’s Lindsey Chapel Series, the Eastman Cello Institute Faculty Recital series, Live from Hochstein Radio Broadcasts, the Musicians Club of Women, and the Dame Myra Hess Concert Series in Chicago. Dr. Swenson Lee has appeared with Emmanuel Music, Boston Baroque, the Rochester Philharmonic, the Handel and Haydn Society and the New World Symphony. Highlights include performances at the San Francisco Early Music Society, Trinity Church Copley and Jordan Hall in Boston, Quigley Chapel and DePaul University in Chicago, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, and Odori Park in Sapporo Japan.

Dr. Swenson Lee has performed under the baton of notable conductors including David Zinman, Fabio Luisi, Leonard Slatkin, David Robertson, George Manahan and Nicholas McGeegan. She has also had the opportunity to work with with artists such as James Dunham, David Halen, John Mark Rozendaal, David Schrader, Rachel Barton Pine, Larry Combs, the Vermeer Quartet, the Ying Quartet, Pacifica Quartet and members of the Vienna Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestras. Dr. Swenson Lee has studied under renowned teachers including Eastman School of Music Distinguished Professor Alan Harris, Chicago Symphony member Richard Hirschl, and long-time cellist of the Vermeer Quartet, Marc Johnson.

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