World-traveling KSU piano professor travels south to Tuscarawas campus to perform

Abby Laner

One of the nation’s best pianists is also a Kent State faculty member.

Donna Lee, an associate professor of music and coordinator of the piano division at Kent State, performed as part of the Artist/Lecture series last night at the Tuscarawas campus. The audience gathered in a small auditorium for an intimate performance and watched as Lee’s fingers moved quickly over the ivory keys of the grand piano sitting in the center of the stage.

The internationally known artist entertained guests with a variety of different pieces from both foreign and American composers.

“Many people have asked me who my favorite composer is,” Lee said. “That is really like asking a parent who their favorite child is … it depends on the day.”

Lee said that one of her favorite composers was Frederic Chopin, a Polish piano composer from the Romantic period. In honor of Chopin, she played a series of songs including “Maiden’s Wish” and “Nocturne.”

Before each song, Lee told the audience a little about the piece and why she chose to perform it. One particular song was composed by David Del Tredici and was based on Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”

“This particular song was composed by Del Tredici who some say had a love, or rather an obsession with Alice and Wonderland,” Lee said. “But I chose the song because of all the movement and fantasy-like sounds it has throughout the entire piece.”

Performing at the Tuscarawas campus was a new experience for Lee, who has performed in places such as China, Puerto Rico and Europe. Lee began her solo debut in 1990 with the National Symphony Orchestra and since then has recorded for several record labels and been broadcast on radio stations in Washington, D.C., Cleveland and also throughout Sweden.

When Lee is not performing, she is teaching Kent State piano students and coordinating events and performances through the Kent Piano Institute and the Kent/Blossom Chamber Music. Also, in the summer, Lee teaches at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Camp and the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina.

Milagros Quesada, an associate professor in the music department at the Tuscarawas campus said she is very impressed by Lee’s work.

“She is an excellent teacher and her students are truly outstanding,” Quesada said. “They have gone on to accomplish many great things because of her.”

Kent State Tuscarawas Dean Gregg Andrews said the event was a success and he was pleased with the turnout.

“It was such a magnificent and enjoyable performance,” Andrews said. “We had a nice receptive crowd who really seemed to enjoy watching Lee perform.”

Contact regional campuses reporter Abby Laner at [email protected].