• Performing Arts
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Ask Ian Lee ’24

It’s an old joke but: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice … and a great deal of talent. Just ask trumpet player Ian Lee ’24, whose blossoming musical career is filled with accolades – including, of course, a Carnegie Hall performance in 2017 (when he won silver in the Golden Key Music Festival) and more recently for an audition at the Hall for the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.

Lee, lead trumpeter with Lawrenceville Collegium (the School’s “varsity” orchestra) began playing trumpet at age 11. While highly motivated to perfect his musicianship, carving out time to practice can be challenging.

“I think that it becomes really hard when you don't know anyone else that plays your instrument or is at the same level as you,” he said. “That was something I struggled with a lot until recently. But once I was exposed to a nationwide community of similarly passionate musicians and were in the same competitions that I was doing, that made me so much more motivated.”

The Fourth Former said his reasons for playing have changed over the years. “I recently realized that when I imagine that [that the trumpet] is my own voice, it's actually helpful,” he explained. “I feel like it's my own voice, just through a little piece of metal. But at the end of the day, it's like my own voice making the noise.”

His resume of awards includes local, regional, and national honors, most recently selection as a National Trumpet Competition quarterfinalist, principal trumpet for both the All-National Honor Concert Band and the New Jersey Music Educators Association All-State Orchestra, and second place (high school division) of the International Trumpet Guild.

“I am always grateful and honored, but it varies across different ensembles and levels. There’s still a lot of subjectivity - sometimes I feel like I definitely don’t deserve certain awards/honors, whether it's because I was over or under qualified compared to others,” said Lee.

Lee continued,I used to never look forward to competitions, until recently when I made a lot of friends at the all-National honor concert band in November. Now, for the first time, I’m genuinely excited to practice and prepare to see them again in future competitions. I also like the traveling aspect: a lot of the events are held in places that I wouldn’t normally visit such as Boulder, Colo., San Antonio, Texas, and Lexington, Ky.

Watch Lee perform Vassily Brandt Concertpiece No 2 in E flat major, Op 12.

For additional information, contact Lisa M. Gillard H'17, director of public relations, at lgillard@lawrenceville.org.