Richard Lee, ETSO Music Director and Conductor

From the time his mother sat him down at a toy piano when he was three years old, Richard Lee has spent his life immersed in music. He graduated to a real piano at the age of five and took up the violin at age seven.  After several long years of coerced practicing, he eventually began to enjoy playing, and at age seventeen, passed with honours the grade X piano and violin exams at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.

After a brief and ill-advised stint as a physics major, Richard came to his senses and pursued a degree in Music Performance at the University of Toronto instead, where as both a violinist and a violist, he studied with Lorand Fenyves, Rennie Regehr and Ken Perkins while studying conducting with Pierre Hétu. Further studies and mentoring in conducting ensued, most notably with Yoav Talmi, Jorma Panula, Gustav Meier, Geoffrey Moull and Kirk Trevor. He has participated in masterclasses for such eminent musicians as Pinchas Zukerman, Rivka Golani, Charles Castleman, Gunther Herbig, Andrew Davis and Helmuth Rilling.  After teaching middle school music for five years, Richard returned to the U of T where, as the Victor Feldbrill Fellow in orchestral conducting, he obtained a Master’s degree under the tutelage of Raffi Armenian.

Richard is the Music Director of the East Texas Symphony Orchestra, based in Tyler.  Previously, he has served as the resident or assistant conductor with the symphony orchestras of Winnipeg, Quebec and Thunder Bay, as well as Music Director of the Korean Canadian Symphony Orchestra.    His work has been recorded and broadcast by the CBC/Radio-Canada.  Outside of music, Richard enjoys Cuban cigars, fine ales & lagers, whiskeys of the world and real barbeque.  He tries to make up for this by practicing hot yoga as often as possible.

Richard remains loyal to the Toronto Raptors and Toronto FC, despite living 1200 miles away from home games, in East Texas, with his wife, Dr. Julie Philley.


Photo: Casey Jay Benson Photography

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