Nova Scotia

18-year-old cellist will be youngest person to perform with Symphony Nova Scotia

An 18-year-old cellist from Bedford, N.S., is now the youngest musician to ever receive an apprenticeship with Symphony Nova Scotia.

Priscilla Lee was accepted to the Fountain School of Performing Arts when she was only 15

Priscilla Lee is studying cello perfomance at Dalhousie's Fountain School of Performing Arts. (Submitted by Priscilla Lee)

An 18-year-old cellist in Bedford, N.S., is now the youngest musician to win an apprenticeship with Symphony Nova Scotia. 

Priscilla Lee, a third-year bachelor of music student majoring in cello performance at Dalhousie's Fountain School of Performance Art, was offered the apprenticeship in early April.

Lee finished high school in two years and studied at Brandon University in Manitoba before deciding to go to Dalhousie University in 2017. 

She was 15 when she started studying at Dal.  

"I was very excited and knowing some of the people at Symphony Nova Scotia, I really do look up to them," Lee said. 

"So having the opportunity to play with them and sitting next to them is definitely a unique opportunity."

Shimon Walt, a professor at  Dalhousie, has been her mentor.

Lee will beperforming alongside her mentor Shimon Walt with Symphony Nova Scotia. (Submitted by Priscilla Lee)

"Priscilla is an amazing talent. She's wonderful. When she started, when I accepted her, I actually had some doubts in my mind if she [was] at university level and how can she catch up," Walt said. 

"But she was so enthusiastic and she really wanted to play and she was so looking forward to working on cello ... and she probably made the biggest progress that I've seen in a long time."

The Fountain School typically nominates one third or fourth-year student an academic year to audition for a panel of Symphony Nova Scotia members for the apprenticeship. 

This year, Walt and the school nominated Lee.

"We all felt that she is the one that definitely would benefit from it," he said.

Lee started playing cello when she was 10. (Submitted by Priscilla Lee)

Now, Lee will perform alongside the orchestra in about five or six concerts during the upcoming season. 

She said the season is expected to begin in September, unless COVID-19 restrictions are still in place.

Lee said she grew up in a musical household. When she was 10, she was inspired by her four brothers to start playing an instrument. 

"Two of my brothers had started playing violin and seeing how much fun they had, I really wanted to pick up a stringed instrument but I didn't just want to follow exactly in my brothers' footsteps," she said. 

"So I decided to pick the cello just because it was so much bigger."

Then, she fell in love with the instrument. 

"One of the biggest things that I love [about] playing the cello is the fact that it's very interactive. Even in school, I'm constantly playing with people and I'm working with people," she said. 

"So I really, really love the fact that the cello is such a central instrument that I can work with many different instruments and different artists as well."

And hopefully by September, she'll be doing just that. 

Lee said she's excited to perform alongside professional musicians but she's also nervous about working so closely with them.

Lee said she's excited to start learning from professional musicians at the Symphony. (Submitted by Priscilla Lee)

"I will be sitting next to them. So the fact that everybody there knows me now is also a little bit of a tight pressure," she said. 

"But I do like the people in the symphony that I've met so far and they're very great people to work with."

Lee said she's looking forward to being exposed to different artists and learning from them.

"I really do expect to learn a lot in the symphony, as well as play a lot of good music," she said.

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