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Conductor Richard Lee to lead LCSO in two concerts this weekend


Richard Lee started studying piano when he was just three, but it wasn’t until he was 16 that a turning point took place. As he told Intermezzo host Leora Zeitlin in this Zoom interview, he was about to play in a recital when, “I really got it. I just sort of said, I’m supposed to do something with this, I’m supposed to elicit a response, an emotional response from the audience, and from myself, when I play this. So let’s just do it.” He went on stage and performed, and he said, “My teacher looked at me funny, too, and she was like ‘whoa, what just happened here?’ And I think that’s when I first really got what music should be.”

Lee went on to receive professional training in violin, viola, and piano, and he now devotes his musical career to conducting. This weekend, he’ll be the guest conductor for the Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra as they continue their search for a new artistic director after the retirement of Lonnie Klein.

Richard Lee on the Zoom call

Lee chose music for the concerts that traces the development of the symphony through several centuries. The program includes a short symphony by C. P. E. Bach, the “Paris” Symphony in D by Mozart, the “Unfinished” Symphony in B Minor of Franz Schubert, and the Adagio movement from the Symphony No. 10 of Gustav Mahler. “I did want to make a point about how symphonic music, the symphony, slowly evolved over time. I’m hoping folks will notice and hear and see a progression, as well as enjoy the music, of course.”

Listen to the full interview to hear more about Lee’s background, his thoughts about the conductor’s responsibility to the music, the composers he has chosen for this concert, and how he feels when he picks up the baton. “Striding onto the podium and looking at the orchestra, and leading the orchestra through rehearsals and a concert, is a process that is magical, and something that I still don’t quite understand,” he said. “I’m in awe of that process.”

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