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THE SCOOP | Sharon Lee To Lead Toronto Concert Orchestra As Artistic Director In Time For Summer Season

By Anya Wassenberg on July 9, 2024

Violinist, conductor & Artistic Director of the Toronto Concert Orchestra Sharon Lee (Photo courtesy of the artist)
Violinist, conductor & Artistic Director of the Toronto Concert Orchestra Sharon Lee (Photo courtesy of the artist)

The Toronto Concert Orchestra (TCO) has announced the appointment of Sharon Lee as Artistic Director, effective immediately. Previously, she held the position of co-Artistic Director.

“I am deeply honoured to lead the Toronto Concert Orchestra as Artistic Director,” said Sharon Lee in a statement. “Toronto has a vibrant musical community, and I am eager to collaborate with the talented musicians of TCO to create inspiring performances that resonate with our diverse audiences.”

Maestra Sharon Lee

Sharon performed her first violin concerto at age ten. She is a recipient of the Ontario Arts Council’s Orford String Quartet Award, and a 2024 Professional Development grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Lee first developed skills as an orchestral musician via the various youth orchestras across Toronto, and later with the New York String Orchestra. She was appointed Principal Second Violin of the Thunder Bay Symphony at age 26.

As a chamber musician, she is a founding member of the Cecilia Quartet, and performed across North America and internationally with them, including fellowships at Schleswig-Holstein Meisterkurse, the Aspen Music Festival, and an official selection to the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition.

Along with her work with TCO, Sharon is Artistic Director of Toronto Chamber Players, and Music Director of the Korean Canadian Symphony Orchestra Association. She also performs on the electric violin with Devah, a prog rock electric strings band.

Her appointment with TCO comes just in time for the Summer Season.

The Toronto Concert Orchestra (Photo courtesy of TCO)
The Toronto Concert Orchestra (Photo courtesy of TCO)

Songs of the World at Home (July 23)

It’s the 11th season for TCO, and Lee will lead the orchestra in a concert titled Songs of the World at Home on July 23 to launch the season of summer concerts.

The program is diverse, and intended to celebrate the various heritages of the musicians in the ensemble, Incorporating music from every continent, it creates what Lee calls a “mosaic of sounds” in a social media post.

The program:

Guest artists for the evening include pianists Daniel Vnukowski, Vanessa Yu, and Luke Welch

  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Concerto No 1, Op. 15; Allegro con brio (Vanessa Yu, Piano)
  • Improvisation in the mode of “Esfehan”; Ali-Akbar Sheyda – Bott-e Chin (Bijan Sepanji, Violin)
  • Reena Esmail: Testament, from Vishwas (Suhashini Arulanandam, Violin)
  • Florence Price: Piano Concerto in One Movement (Luke Welch, piano)
  • Arirang – Korean Traditional (Soo Han, arr)
  • Kwela – South African Traditional (Patrick Goodwin, violin)
  • Astor Piazzolla: Libertango
  • Frederic Chopin: Piano Concerto No 2 (Daniel Vnukowski, piano)

As an audience member, you can contribute to the spirit of the concert by wearing something that expresses your own heritage.

Looking Forward

Lee will continue to work with Co-Artistic Director Marcus Scholtes. The pair plan to create new initiatives that will help to foster emerging talent, and expand TCO’s outreach in the region.

“We are delighted to embrace Sharon Lee as Artistic Director of the TCO family,” said Janet Qi, Chair of the Board. “Her exceptional musicality and visionary leadership will undoubtedly inspire our musicians and enrich our community through the power of orchestral music.”

Lee is the only woman conductor to lead a professional symphony orchestra in the city, together with Board Chair Janet Qi, and Executive Director Kaija Corlazzoli.

The Toronto Concert Orchestra was founded in 2008 by the late Maestro Kerry Stratton.

  • Find out more about the July 23 Songs of the World at Home concert [HERE], and the rest of the summer season [HERE].

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