Dr. Calvin Lee
Is Living His Dream
"I FEEL THAT MUSIC runs through my
body as blood runs through my arteries,"
says Calvin Lee, a Modesto, California, surgeon
and acupuncturist. "But I don't get
much opportunity to play music. After being
away from being able to express music, I
This spring, Lee landed a spot in the
YouTube Symphony Orchestra, winning an
online audition and performing at Carnegie
Hall with an ensemble of other enthusiasts
under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas. "I
was in my surgery room in our office between
minor procedures when I got the call," he says.
"GooglelYouTube initially called my office
phone, and our receptionist at first thought it
was a prank call that I had won a competition
to go play violin at Carnegie Hall."
Before entering medical school, Lee
had taken his violin playing seriously.
"I had been concertmaster at the Brown
University Orchestra and had won the
concerto competition," he says. He later
secured a position in the first violin section
of the Illinois Symphony, but had to pass on
the job to complete his medical studies. "It
would have been a dream for me to play in
that orchestra at that time," he says.
His brief stint with the YTSO has
opened doors for Lee. He was featured on
the ABC World News, NPR, and other news
outlets. Folks took notice. "My audition [of
the Presto from Bach's Violin Sonata in G
minor] caught the attention of two medical
orchestras in Asia, one from Hong Kong and
another from Taiwan," he says. "They invited
me to solo in a concerto with them this summer.
I hope that people will be able to see me
as a musician and as a physician. I've always
believed that one is able to bring the most to
any field when one is an expert in more than
one area. There will be creative ways of intermingling
the seemingly unrelated fields. I've
found ways to break down difficult surgical
maneuvers into manageable basic motions,
very much like practicing a hard passage on
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90 September 2009 / Strings ALLThingsStrings.com
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