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Professor Lee Chin Siow

Professor Lee Chin Siow


World Class Violinist Chooses C of C
By Mark Bartle

Born in Singapore, Lee Chin Siow started playing violin at the age of seven. She was Instructed by her father, Hee Shun Siow, who is also a violinist. Lee Chin holds degrees from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, the Mannes College of Music in New York, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, and has studied under renowned violinists such as Felix Galimir, Aaron Rosand, Almita Vamos, and Roland Vamos.

Some of her most prominent accomplishments include winning the Gold Medal at the 1994 Henryk Szeryng International Violin Competition and First Prize winner in the 1994 Louise D.McMahon International Music competition for Strings.

The College of Charleston only recently began a strings program in the music department. Before the arrival of Siow, a few years ago, there were only two violin majors and today that number has more than tripled. This growth is expected to continue under Siow's leadership.

"To anyone serious about studying performance music, I bring two sides to the table: pedagogy with practical experience. I've walked the walk," Siow says .

Siow has performed in more than 20 countries on four continents and is a frequent guest performer for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Other performances include the 2003 Osaka Performing Arts Festival as a soloist representing the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, solo appearances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, and tours with the Syracuse Symphony, the Jena Philharmonic Orchestra, the State of Mexico Symphony Orchestra, the Lisbon Metropolitan Orchestra, the United Philharmonic Orchestra of Vienna and the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. Additionally, in the near future, she is scheduled to perform in London with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

As far as teaching violin, it began unexpectedly while still at student at the Oberlin Conservatory. One of her instructor's substitutes fell through. While at lunch together, Siow‘s instructor asked her to fill in.

"I was handed the Rolls Royce for my first job," she says. "I knew that I would be teaching for the rest of my life."

Since then, Siow has also taught at the University of Singapore, the Lisbon Academy of Music, the Chicago Institute of Music, and the University of Montana.

Currently, Lee Chinn is the director of strings and professor of violin at the College of Charleston. She also maintains a distinguished private student clientele, and her students have won the South Carolina Music Teachers State competitions (SCMTNA) and also soloed with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.

"When you teach, you are always putting the student first," she says. "But when you perform you are always thinking of yourself. I've learned so much from my students and I'm a better performer because of it."

Recently, Siow performed at the College of Charleston's Recital Hall, as part of the Music Department's Monday Night Concert Series. Several School of the Arts students were in attendance, including Andrea Horath, an aspiring voice major here at the college. "She is an amazing performer," Horath says. "Her talent brings so much beauty and richness to the music department. I feel that everyone benefits from her being here, not just the violinists."

"I had been offered several other jobs, but I selected to come here," Siow says. "I chose Charleston because of the newly established strings program. I thought it would be a challenge to make it develop and grow into something truly great."

The College of Charleston is not the typical school for students interested in persuing the study of violin. There are many distinguished schools to choose from both nationally and internationally, according to Siow. To have a professor with her credentials at a liberal arts college can seem unusual but she has a specific reason for being here.

"Compared to a conservatory, I think that a liberal arts college makes students more well rounded," says Siow, C of C's only full-time violin teacher. "I don't just want them to be good musicians, I want them to be good human beings. That's the most important thing."

Professor Siow can be reached at (843) 953-5195, siowl@cofc.edu, or in her office in the Albert Simons Center for the Arts. Currently Siow's courses include Music Appreciation, Repertory Class: Strings, Ensemble: Chamber Music, and Applied Music: Violin.