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"He just has that rare and natural instinct. He was able to excel technically from the start, and play the same pieces I played when I was a child." - Min Lee on Samuel Tan.

Violin mentor and protégé set to thrill

Nov 3, 2017 5:50 AM

Classical violinist Min Lee and her 12-year-old protégé Samuel Tan are pairing up for a benefit concert titled String A Legacy.

Lee will be performing Mendelssohn's well-loved masterpiece Violin Concerto In E minor - the first concerto she played when she was nine-years-old.

Samuel will thrill the audience with Wieniawski's Variations On An Original Theme Op 15 and Sarasate's Introduction And 'Arantelle Op 43.

Lee noticed Samuel's talents seven years ago when he joined the Wolfgang Violin Studio that's co-founded by Lee and her mother Annie. He was was only five years old then, but had immediately impressed the Lees with his uncanny aptitude.

Lee recalled: "He just has that rare and natural instinct. He was able to excel technically from the start, and play the same pieces I played when I was a child."

Samuel had first learnt to play on his own when he was only two. He stood in front of the television and played along with a concert recording. He started taking proper lessons just before he turned three.

Since Lee began guiding him, Samuel has soared into the stratosphere. When he was nine, he beat competitors almost four times his age to clinch the grand Postacchini Prize at the 21st International Andrea Postacchini Violin Competition held in Fermo, Italy, in 2014. Last year, he was included in London's Classic FM list of Astonishing Child Prodigies of 2016.

Lee herself came to public prominence in the early 1990s. She was a protégé of one of the most eminent violinists of the 20th century, Erick Friedman, whom she studied under at Yale School of Music. She was accepted into Yale at age 14 - the youngest enrolled student in the history of Yale.

Friedman was mentored by legendary violinists Jascha Heifetz and Nathan Milstein. Heifetz was mentored by legendary Russian violinist and pedagogue Leopold Auer.

Samuel said: "It is amazing for any young violinist to be part of a musical lineage that can be traced back from Auer to Heifetz, to Friedman and to Min Lee. When I listen to their CDs, I know I have big shoes to fill, but I am really glad to be able to be schooled by Lee in this tradition as it means a lot to me."

Lee and Samuel will be performing with the Wolfgang Sinfonietta Orchestra, an orchestra of professional musicians initiated by the Wolfgang Violin Studio, conducted by Maestro Juan Felipe Molano. Vitek Chody from Prague will play as concert master.

To top it off, the Wolfgang Young Artists Orchestra will also showcase some of the Wolfgang Violin Studio's most promising students who are between the ages of four and 15. In total, 100 violinists and cellists will be playing.

Japanese mezzo soprano Seia Lee will also make a guest appearance at the concert, singing operatic favourites from Bizet's Carmen.

Organised by Ming Classics and The Rice Company Limited, the concert will benefit The Business Times Budding Artists Fund, which helps artistically-gifted but financially-disadvantaged children pursue the arts.

  • String A Legacy is on at the Esplanade on Nov 27 at 8pm. Tickets from s$25 from Sistic.