PSYE Alumni Spotlight: Justin Lee – #HumansOfPacificSymphony

From professional orchestral musicians to our very own interns, our Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles alumni seem to be shaking up the world in various disciplines, but we can’t forget about our freshest batch of recently-graduated alumni!

Meet Justin Lee: starting this fall, he’ll be attending the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in Biology! He was a clarinetist in Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble for 1 year and the Youth Orchestra for 3 years. We got to hear Justin’s fresh perspective on the Youth Ensembles program, having just graduated high school, and what he had to say about his own experience.

022_PSYWE & IHSCC Portrait
PSYWE, joined by the IHSCC


At the top of your head, what’s your favorite memory from the Youth Ensembles?

Definitely my first youth orchestra concert. We played Saint-Saëns’s “Organ Symphony.” This was one of the first pieces I played with the orchestra, and the energy in the grand finale from the organ shook me! I didn’t know until then that music could really move me emotionally, and I started to enjoy sharing these emotions with the audiences. It was my motivation to continue music, even when there were a lot of other things in my life.

What have the Youth Ensembles taught you about music aside from just performing?

Through these three years in the orchestra, I learned that classical music is actually so entertaining, and by directly involving myself in the music, it was cool getting to share these feelings with other fellow musicians. The orchestra also taught me how to communicate, since in orchestra it’s important that we indirectly connect with other musicians by controlling and match our own sounds to create genuine music.

Do you think you’ve changed much since your time in the Youth Ensembles?

I think I haven’t changed a lot since then, as I really act the same and love same things that I have enjoyed during my entire high-school career things such as classical music. But I think I really have to see more of the changes during my college years—I’m only going to be a freshman!

Any words of wisdom for the students that are currently in the Ensembles?

Something I really want to say to the current PSYO musicians is that you guys are really lucky; you’ll learn so much in this prestigious, professional environment. I really wish I had a chance to play for one more season. Cherish all the memories from rehearsals, retreats, and concerts. Enjoy the musical moments, and appreciate what you have around you!

Associate Conductor and PSYO Music Director Roger Kalia leads the Youth Orchestra in its Spring Finale concert

If you’d like to learn more about our Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble, check out Dr. Gregory X. Whitmore’s interview about his position as the program’s Music Director!


This article was written by Alison Huh, one of Pacific Symphony’s Marketing & PR interns. Alison will be a sophomore at University of California, Berkeley, where she studies English. She was formerly a member of Pacific Symphony’s Youth Orchestra, playing flute.

PSYE Alumni Spotlight: Justin Lee – #HumansOfPacificSymphony

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