Q&A with Owen Lee


Fanfare Cincinnati: Tell us about your history with theKoussevitzky concerto. What does this piece have to offer?

Owen Lee: Koussevitzky was one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century. As a double bassist, he was one of the greatest soloists in the history of the instrument. As a bassists to compose their own. I’ve taken up the challenge and will play my own cadenzas in the third movement.composer, he composed tonight’s beautiful concerto as well as a number of other works which remain standard double bass repertoire. As a conductor, he made the Boston Symphony Orchestra world famous as their Music Director from 1924 to 1949. As a teacher, he founded Tanglewood, and Leonard Bernstein was one of his students. As a champion of contemporary music, he personally commissioned many works that have become standard repertoire, such as Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra which we perform after intermission. Koussevitzky never composed cadenzas for his concerto, but welcomed bassists to compose their own. I’ve taken up the challenge and will play my own cadenzas in the third movement.

FC: How does the way you prepare for a concerto performance differ from how you prepare for an ordinary CSO concert weekend?

OL: Not much difference. In either situation, you put in the necessary time until it sounds good.


FC: Aside from your position at the CSO, what are your other musical endeavors?
OL: I love teaching at CCM, and in the summers at Chautauqua School of Music. I also like to support the local rock music scene by seeing local and touring bands. UFO and Saxon played in Cincinnati in October, and that was a highlight, especially running into and meeting Saxon at a restaurant around the corner. Occasionally I play keyboards with Cincinnati’s Electric Citizen. They tour worldwide and have really made a name for themselves. If you like 70’s style hard rock such as Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, you’ll love Electric Citizen!

FC: Why do you consider Cincinnati a good place to call “home”?
OL: I love the four seasons, its rich history, its devotion to arts and culture, and its stunning landscape and old architecture.