Through the Eyes of... Su-a Lee

When/where were you on sabbatical?
I took a 6 month sabbatical from the SCO between April and October in 2015. I was in Paris and Glasgow for some of it, but I spent about 4 months in the US and Canada. I studied with many teachers and took several different courses in folk, traditional, Classical and Arabic music… from New York, to San Francisco and Montreal, via Indianapolis, Massachussetts, Maine and Florida. One could almost say that I’ve come home for a holiday!

What’s your Cello’s Story?
I picked up my new cello in Paris. It was made especially for me, by a wonderful maker called Stephan von Baehr. I believe that there may be one or two more von Baehr commissions coming to the SCO soon? Stephan is a wizard. He is fervently enthusiastic about making instruments, and customises them to suit your personality and playing. The first time we met, I went with my husband Gordon, and we spent about 3 hours with him chatting and playing. All the while, he fixes you with these beautiful blue eyes that are piercingly perceptive, and you have the feeling that he is already gathering vital information regarding the formation of your instrument. By the time we left, we were both in love with him. It was love at first sight with the new cello too, and I have had a very happy summer getting to know ‘Stella’…!

What music do you listen to (and perhaps why)?
My musical taste is very eclectic. I enjoy a wide variety of different genres. These range from Frank Zappa, through blues, country, jazz, soul, electronica, rock, 80’s pop, punk, Indian, Arabic, Latin American, and of course a lot of Celtic, Scandinavian and American traditional music. I guess you could say that I have ‘global’ tastes. Random iPod shuffling is a good way to surprise yourself with things you haven’t heard in a long time. I also always try to buy the albums that friends have produced, so for a high proportion of the time, I have a close personal connection with whoever I’m listening to. On occasion, it might even be me… eek! After a summer learning from so many different traditions, I came back with scores of new albums… it will take some months to get through them all! But the album which is top of my list, in fact it would be my ‘desert island disc’, is David Watkin’s recent recording of the Bach Solo Cello Suites, for which he deservingly won a Gramophone Award.

Lee, Su-a - Bipgraphy