Cellist Jaeho Lee ’24 Performs Solo Recital, Connects with Pieces through Background Research and Study

While playing his introductory piece, “Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major” by J.S. Bach, cellist Jaeho Lee ’24 took a long pause, eyes closed, as his bow hovered over the strings. After a moment of silent anticipation, Lee took a short breath, and the tempo sped up as the piano accompanied the melody.

Hosting a four-piece solo recital held in Graves Hall last Friday, Lee originally planned to perform last year, but was unable to, due to schedule conflicts. This year, determined to perform the pieces he has prepared for over a year, he reached out to Peter Cirelli and Christina Landolt, Instructors in Music, and Leah Dunbar, Music Department Administrative Assistant, to organize a recital.

“It’s been a long process. At New England Conservatory I do this cycle of workshops and recitals. Basically, I took each piece to at least two to three workshops and recitals…where you perform it in one of the concert spaces at NEC….over the course of a couple of months, and also the summer, I got this array of pieces ready,” said Lee.

Lee’s goal for the performance was to showcase his musical versatility by performing a wide range of music from different time periods. Specifically, Lee explained that his Beethoven piece, “Sonata No. 4 in C Major, Op. 102, No. 1,” allowed him to display lesser known aspects of Beethoven’s work.

“The Beethoven [piece] is kind of interesting because Beethoven is usually seen as bread and butter kind of classic x3 composer, but the piece I played was late Beethoven, meaning kind of experimenting, and critiques at the time actually didn’t like the piece, but he wrote it anyways and published it, and it’s gained great success in the past couple of decades I want to say…I wanted to show Beethoven’s bold steps towards new music that’s ahead of his time,” said Lee.

Lee also conducts background research on the pieces he plays. Noting that his recital’s greatest challenge was preparing several pieces at once, Lee acclimated to his multi-piece workload by studying his scores one by one.

“I had to transition to learning multiple pieces and play them in memory at the same time, that was the biggest hurdle I think, because I wasn’t used to memorizing different pieces. I overcame that by sort of sitting down and looking at the music, it sounds kind of silly but usually before then I just played the piece and then practiced it…[Now] I sit down and really study the score and study the piano score even, because a lot of the time I’m listening to the piano and I play along,” said Lee.

Lee is involved in music both at and outside of Andover. On campus, he plays in the Symphony and Chamber Orchestra. Beyond Andover, Lee participates in the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and the New England Conservatory Preparatory School. Friend and fellow cellist cellist Amithi Tadigadapa ’23 noted Lee’s technical precision and eye for detail.

“[Lee’s] really detail-oriented, and he always has a lot of great suggestions as to what we should do as a section, and for fingerings, and all the little technical aspects. I’d definitely say he has an eye for the finer, smaller things,” said Tadigadapa ’23.

In the future, Lee hopes to learn to assert confidence on stage and improve technically. Lee also looks forward to preparing for music competitions, such as the Wellesley Concerto Competition.

“I think I should be a lot more clean when I play my pieces. I slide around a lot, and my shifts aren’t as nice as I want them to be, and a lot of the times, getting started for me is the issue…playing in front of an audience is [also] a big issue. In terms of musicianship, I want to improve my stage presence, sometimes I walk on a little awkwardly, I know when I’m watching soloists, they walk on with so much poise, and they sit down, you can instantly tell they’re a major artist. I want to work on that,” said Lee.