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Violinist Shannon Lee: From Suzuki to Star Wars to Computer Science and Back Again

Shawn Northcutt
Violinist Shannon Lee

Though born in Canada, violinist Shannon Lee’s story really starts in Texas; for it was there that she began her musical journey. With three-year-old hands too small for the piano, Lee began Suzuki violin classes instead. 

By the time she completed all 10 Suzuki books, much of her social life revolved around rehearsals, workshops and music camps. For Lee, “play” has always meant music. 

At the age of 8, Lee secured the mentor who would nurture her through the end of high school - Jan Mark Sloman, then the Principal Associate Concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. 

At 14, she was invited to make her debut recording at Skywalker Ranch, the same studio responsible for the Star Wars soundtracks. Lee's teenage years brought a packed performance schedule, and by the time she graduated from high school she felt ready for a break.

So instead of enrolling at a conservatory, Lee enrolled at Columbia University and earned a degree in computer science. She continued studying music, though, taking lessons from David Nadien, former concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic.

Lee returned to the violin full-time following her graduation from Columbia and currently attends the Curtis Institute of Music.

Listen to Shannon Lee's story, in her own words, and hear her perform on WRTI's Philadelphia Music Makers, Sunday, November 9th, 5 to 6 pm.

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