Dylan Lee has been making waves abroad

MALAYSIAN cellist Dylan Lee has chalked up some impressive achievements in his career to date. Lee has performed in international orchestras with esteemed cellists, and won international awards as well, quite an impressive profile for a 29-year-old.

Lee began playing the cello at the age of six and played the stringed instrument for the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra when he was a teenager. He has also performed in Japan and Munich in Germany, and even alongside Austrian classical violinist Christian Altenburger at the Mozarteum Summer Academy in Salzburg.

Having graduated from a Master programme under Prof Julius Berger at the Leopold Mozart Zentrum in Augsburg in 2019, Dylan mastered contemporary and classical music. He also plays the piano and electric guitar.

$!Lee performing at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas. – PICTURE COURTESYOF FADILAH KAMAL FRANCIS

What attracted you to play the cello?

I started playing the cello when I was six or seven-years-old. At first, I thought I could impress my friends by choosing to play the biggest instrument! I decided to play the cello and pursue classical music professionally in my teens, after playing in the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra for a few years. It was when I was playing in the youth orchestra that music rooted itself deep in my heart, and the deep timbre of the cello became my voice.

Who is your biggest influence when it comes to music?

I have been lucky to have had wonderful teachers and mentors who guided me along my musical journey. My professors Ng Pei-Sian and Leslie Tan in Singapore played an important role in making me the musician that I am today.

However, my biggest influence in recent years has been my professor in Germany, Prof Julius Berger. He is a musician, poet and thinker. He pushed me to reach greater heights with my music.

Share with us your award-winning moments.

In December 2019, just before the world went into lockdown, I was awarded the Grand Prize in the Global Music Partnership Concerto competition. As part of the award, I travelled to Uzbekistan to play the Schumann Cello Concerto with the Uzbekistan State Symphony Orchestra – an unforgettable experience! Earlier that year in Germany, I also won the Andreas Stein Competition in Augsburg. Other than that, I was also awarded a full scholarship to study music at Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music at the National University of Singapore, where I got my bachelor’s degree.

How would you describe your music?

I operate in two modes as a musician, depending on whether I am in the practice room or on stage. When I am preparing a piece, practising or rehearsing, I value detail, and I am polished in my music. When I step on stage, I instinctively become interested in getting in tune with the audience and playing with spontaneity and drama. I would describe my music as a confluence of these two contrasting aspects of my musicianship.

What is the most memorable or turning point in your life?

I will never forget the day I auditioned to do my master’s degree in Germany. It was an extremely hot summer, and it was my final audition after weeks of auditioning. I went into the room and played my heart out. After playing, and as I was packing up, Prof Berger came out to congratulate me on my performance, and said that he would like to take me in as a student. Studying with him changed my perspective on music and life. He even let me perform in his place on two occasions, once at the Gasteig in Munich and another time at the Mozarteum Summer Festival in Salzburg.

What are your future goals?

It is hard to know what the future holds with the global pandemic in full swing. Having moved back to Malaysia late last year, I am excited to teach and share the knowledge and experience I have gained overseas with musicians and students here.