Vancouver Island Symphony principal clarinetist Christopher Lee will perform as guest soloist in the symphony’s Mozart and a Drum Roll concert at the Port Theatre on Jan. 20. (Submitted photo)

Vancouver Island Symphony’s Christopher Lee takes centre stage for Mozart clarinet concerto at Port Theatre

With Lee performing as soloist, his father is filling his seat among the clarinets

Vancouver Island Symphony principal clarinetist Christopher Lee will be in the spotlight on Jan. 20 when he performs as guest soloist in the symphony’s Mozart and a Drum Roll concert at the Port Theatre.

Lee will be the featured musician for the ensemble’s rendition of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major, a piece that Lee describes as “almost like the Bible” for clarinetists. He said he played it as a member of the Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra.

“You have to know the piece, you have to play well and you have to be familiar,” he said of the composition.

“Any time you’re asked to play, you have to play.”

Lee said the symphony tapped him for the role about a year ago and that he is “more than happy” to play for his orchestra. He said playing the concerto is an opportunity that doesn’t come around often.

“If you’re not a famous international soloist, it’s kind of rare to play with a professional orchestra as a soloist. So this is quite a good opportunity for me, personally,” Lee said.

“There are many professional orchestra musicians who almost never have a chance to play this piece … I’m quite honoured and privileged to play this very famous piece for clarinetists.”

With Lee vacating his seat in the ensemble for the soloist position, another Lee will be filling in with the rest of the clarinet section – his father Ken.

Lee said Ken was his teacher and sometimes sits in with the symphony when Lee is unavailable.

“This is something very unique in the musical world, especially the professional world, father and … son, two different generations playing on the same stage,” he said, adding that he doesn’t feel pressure when he performs with Ken sitting nearby.

“Not anymore. When I was a teenager, yes, but now we are both professional players. So he’s a colleague and friend.”

WHAT’S ON … The Vancouver Island Symphony presents Mozart and a Drum Roll at the Port Theatre on Saturday, Jan. 20 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $33 to $54. Student price is $18, high school eyeGo passes are $5. Tickets are available at the Port Theatre.

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