With a record of “emphatic” and “nicely shaded” performances, the versatile concert violist Jonathan Lee has established himself as one of Singapore’s leading violists of his generation both as a performer and pedagogue. His performances are but one method he uses to communicate about music to others. He strongly advocates connecting to people by meaning something connected to one’s life experiences or that of others through performing live music and as an educator.
Jonathan solidly established himself as a professional orchestral musician while based in Bloomington Indiana, America: he was awarded contract positions with the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra (3rd Chair), Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and Terre Haute Symphony. He has also served as acting Assistant Principal in the above mentioned orchestras. In addition, he has also performed in the Evansville Philharmonic and was invited to play in the Carmel Symphony Orchestra just to name a few. At the Jacobs School of Music (JSoM) at Indiana University (IU), he was also contracted as a core member of the school’s Conductors’ Orchestra. In Singapore, Jonathan is also highly sought after by various orchestras, namely the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra (MFO), the Singapore Lyric Opera, New Opera Singapore, the Singapore Pops Orchestra, the former Singapore Festival Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Music Makers. His orchestral journey has also led to performances in China, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan. Previously, he also served in the NUS Symphony Orchestra and The Philharmonic Orchestra in both Principal and Section player roles.
As a chamber musician, Jonathan has performed publicly in Hanoi, Phnom Penh, Singapore and most recently his professional involvement in public performances under the auspices of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic. In Singapore, he frequently performs in various string quartets, most frequently with the Vetta Quartet and Play on Music. Other ensemble performances include appearances on the violin and viola with the late cultural medallion recipient Iskandar Ismail and the People’s Association. In addition he frequently plays at special Catholic Church functions in Singapore.
As an individual, Jonathan has gained recognition both as performer and pedagogue. On the stage he has distinguished himself as an upcoming local violist of his generation by performing the solo viola in Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel as part of the Esplanade Spectrum series: a series of concerts promoting classical music from the 20th century and beyond. As an educator, he was most recently appointed as a mentor as part of the MFO’s involvement in Singapore’s Sing50 concert in 2015 and qualified as a graduate theory assistant instructor at JSoM. Prior to this, he has held the position of viola instructor at National Junior College, has conducted workshops at the University of Fine Arts in Cambodia and served as a viola mentor in the Penang Philharmonic and the Singapore National Youth Orchestra. His students have also achieved distinctions in the ABRSM graded exams and have become principal players of their school string ensembles.
Jonathan’s other notable achievements include being offered a full scholarship from the National Arts Council in 2011 to represent Singapore in the Kirishima International Music Festival in Japan, his participation in the Asian Youth Orchestra (AYO) 2010, and being appointed principal violist at the inaugural ChildAid Orchestra 2009. More recently in 2013, Jonathan was the recipient of the NUSS Medal for Outstanding Achievement at his graduation, an award given to the best all round music faculty graduate at NUS. As a student, he was a recipient of the Artistic Excellence Award and Graduate Tuition Award at the JSoM and full scholarship recipient of the joint National University of Singapore Faculty Award and Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YSTCM) Scholarship.
Jonathan holds a Masters of Music in Viola Performance from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and a Bachelors of Music in Viola Performance from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music. Jonathan owes his success to all his past teachers in both academic and performance disciplines. His principal teachers include Atar Arad, Professor of Music (Viola) at the JSoM at Indiana University, YSTCM viola faculty members Associate Professor Zhang Manchin, Jiri Heger and Lionel Tan as well as Peabody faculty member Victoria Chiang. Jonathan fondly remembers his years in the Singapore National Youth Orchestra under Maestro Lim Soon Lee and Robert Casteels where he was a violinist and the 2005 Chairperson of the Orchestra’s Students’ Committee.