A Dal student practicing for her big year-end cello performance in a Dartmouth parking lot last week as she passed the time waiting for a clothing store to open didn't expect to draw an audience — but that's just what she got.
“I didn’t notice there were people watching, but when I looked up, I saw there were lots of cars with their windows rolled down, and even some people were moved to tears, which really touched me,” says Priscilla Lee, now in her final year at the Fountain School of Performing Arts.
Just before the impromptu parking-lot practice, Priscilla auditioned for Concerto Night — the Fountain School’s biggest musical event each year that features student soloists with the in-house orchestra. She was selected to perform.
“I auditioned and got it, and I was one of the solo performers,” she says. “So I needed the day to practice and to prepare for the night, but also I needed to go dress shopping. I was kind of in a panic.”
The parking lot practice turned into a warmly received impromptu mini concert. “The fact that I was just doing my daily practice and this was the response is amazing. I wasn’t aware of how much people were drawn to live music, especially during the pandemic when interaction with people is taken away.”
A challenging year for musicians
Priscilla’s love of music stems from her childhood. “I first started to play music when I was five, with the piano,” she says, “and when I was 10, I begged my parents to play the cello.” She’s been playing ever since, and decided to pursue a career in music.
Priscilla mentions how challenging it has been for artists to express themselves during the pandemic. “It’s hard for musicians when we don’t get interaction with the audience,” she says, “there’s something about playing live music that you can’t imitate or emulate when you’re performing virtually, it just doesn’t feel the same.”
“I am absolutely inspired by this performance” Priscilla says, “I am grateful to have that experience even if it was small, it’s all about the people.” When the pandemic started, I ended up going weekly to the public gardens, and some seniors would come. It ended up becoming regular. I take out my cello and I play, that’s the whole point of learning music ... I want to share it with other people and bless them with that.”
Priscilla expressed her sadness that she can’t perform in person for family this year.
“I’m graduating and would have loved to have those who contributed to my journey of the degree come and see my perform,” she says.
The parking lot performance gave Priscilla a taste of what she’s been missing for the past year, something to inspire her moving forward.
“I’m performing live in Lunenburg soon.”
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