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In conversation with Shaun Lee-Chen

In the lead-up to the Brandenburg Quartet show at Government House Ballroom on November 8, we caught up with their principal violinist, Perth-born-and-raised Shaun Lee-Chen, to talk classical music, the joys of performing in his hometown and his shoe obsession.

We are looking forward to you coming back to your home ground Perth. What about returning to Perth for this show are you most looking forward to? 

My own bed! (laughs) But seriously it's exciting to be able to represent the Orchestra in Perth because it is an opportunity to re-instate our presence in WA. 

How has winning the Australian Young Performer of the Year a few years ago at Perth Concert Hall impacted on your career? 

(laughs) It's coming up to 10 years now and I must say the award did open many doors for me in terms of performance opportunities. 

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Image The Brandenburg Quartet. Shaun Lee-Chen pictured far left.

A little birdy mentioned that Shaun Lee-Chen LOVES shoes, bikes and cats. Is this true, Shaun? 


We understand that your sister Semra is Assistant Concert Master playing for the West Australian Symphony Orchestra. Do you have any other musical siblings and do your parents play any instruments? 

Yes, she actually showed talent for the instrument! Also my brother was a very promising cellist but now he is a banker and my mum is a respected violin teacher, particularly of youngsters. Dad doesn't play anything but he randomly sings along to things sometimes. 

What do you enjoy most about performing with the Brandenburg Quartet? 

We have the opportunity to be the voice for ongoing research into the performance of Classical music. We also have the chance to explore and perhaps discover repertoire that isn't played often but deserves an airing. String Quartet playing is the highest art for string players and we are so lucky to be able to try and replicate what music may have sounded like back when it was composed with the equipment and knowledge we have. 

What are some key differences between performing as part of a quartet and a full orchestra? 

We can't blame our sections for mistakes. 

We have been told the Brandenburg Quartet will be performing with period instruments. What can you tell us about these instruments? 

We all play with gut strings and fittings for the instruments that are fairly accurate for the time (fingerboards, necks, tailpieces). We will use 2 different types of bows for the repertoire we cover - a Baroque bow which has a very different shape from a modern bow for the Richter, and a Classical/Transitional bow which has a shape approaching that of a modern bow for the remainder of the concert. 

What should audiences expect at the show on November 8? 

The audience will hear 2 pieces that have probably not been played in Perth before, and perhaps a fresh take on Beethoven. 

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Catch Shaun perform with the Brandenburg Quartet in this mesmerising ONE NIGHT ONLY performance.

Tickets available now from Perth Concert Hall website.