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Josh Spirek sat down with our soloist Tiffany Lee who is playing in our upcoming concert, Canvas. We had a chat with her about her musicals beginnings and the piece she’ll be performing.

Article No. 5

The first thing we asked her, is how she first become interested in playing the cello, and what drew her to it as her instrument of choice? She responded that, “I didn’t even know what the cello was when I first started playing! When I was in Year 1, my Mum chose it for me, because she wanted me to try something different since so many people in my class already played the violin. However, my first instrument was actually the piano, but I naturally became more drawn to the cello due to its ability to create such a unique, warm and soulful sound. I loved how I could manipulate its tone, and easily transfer a variety of expressions and emotions through it”.

Next, we asked about her future plans and goals as a cello soloist, and what projects she is currently working on or looking forward to in the near future? She said that, “I am also currently working on the Shostakovich Cello Concerto No.1 and it is very different to any other solo work I’ve played before. Although I’ve been lucky enough to play a couple of his quartets before, I’m really excited to experiment with Shostakovich’s brutal sound and intensity on my own, and honing into the darker character that this piece requires”.

Tiffany Lee playing cello. Photo provided by Tiffany and taken by ‘Partografia Photography & Film'

When we asked Tiffany what piece she’d like to play for Canvas, she immediately came up with Debussy’s Cello Sonata. So we asked her what draws her to it and what she likes about it? Her response was, “I was first introduced to this sonata back in high school and have loved it ever since! It’s a spirited piece that highlights Debussy’s exploratory use of exotic modes as well as dreamy, time-altering pentatonic and whole-tone scales. The piece requires precise focus as it is meticulously filled with detailed markings, however this is what brings together Debussy’s adventurous vision for such a blaringly original composition. I particularly admire the sonata’s reference to ‘Pierro Lunaire’, a comedic puppet character whose erratic personas can be profoundly heard throughout the theatrics of each movement”.

And lastly, seeing as a2. orchestra will be performing Debussy’s Cello Sonata arranged for orchestra, we asked Tiffany what is so exciting about this, compared to playing the piece with just piano and solo cello. She said, “I feel so privileged to be able to play this arrangement. Not only because it is one of my favourite pieces, but also because it is a once in a life time experience! I really commend my friend Josh for rewriting and putting together such a brave project. The sonata is very modernist and eccentric, encompassing a pallet of irregular tempo modifications, shifts in tonality and bizarre characters. Ensemble-wise, this already makes it particularly difficult for a cello and piano to put together, so I really applaud all of the musicians involved for their courageous leap in approaching the composition as a chamber ensemble”.

If you want to see Tiffany play Debussy's Cello sonata rearranged for orchestra, you can catch her at our upcoming concert Canvas on Thursday the 20th of July. More details and tickets available here!

Tiffany Lee performing Debussy's cello sonata in our sound check before Canvas

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