APO’s Ben Gemmell talked to APO Principal Cor Anglais Martin Lee about his musical background, lacrosse, and Zouluminous, his horse!
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Melbourne, Australia.
How long have you been with the APO?
I first joined the APO in 1995, so this year is my 25th anniversary!
Tell me about your background in music.
I played oboe in high school. My brothers and sisters also played it and so it was natural for me to learn it too. Then, I got a taste of the cor anglais in college and this certainly came in handy when I switched positions from Principal Oboe to Principal Cor Anglais at the APO!
What are some of your favourite works in the oboe or cor anglais repertoire?
Hindemith’s Cor Anglais Sonata and Bach’s Sonata in G Minor BWV 1030b for Oboe.
What are your interests outside of the orchestra?
Lacrosse! There are now four generations of lacrosse players in my family. My grandfather, my father, me, and now my boys are all lacrosse players. It’s in our blood.
I’m also keen on horse racing, I’m not necessarily involved in it so much anymore – but back when I was living in Geelong, I’d get up at the crack of dawn and train with the horses we had and I really enjoyed that.
At the moment, I actually co-own a Te Akau Racing horse down near Hamilton with two mates – an old friend from school and Mark Close (who used to play trombone in the APO!). Our horse has a bit of a strange name (laughs), his name is Zoulumious.
I also really enjoy hiking – that is, when I can wrangle the kids together. We really enjoy going on day-trips and tackling things like the Tongariro Crossing.
What inspires you?
The grandeur and beauty of the Auckland Town Hall. Performing in it with the APO every week never ceases to inspire me!
Quickfire! What is your favourite…
Book: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
Food: Frank Celata’s Mum’s lasagne
Do you have any advice for young aspiring musicians?
Practise a lot – and I mean, a lot! Really enjoy the music when you play it and the public will love listening to you perform as well.
What are you looking forward to about the In Your Neighbourhood: Folk Songs concert?
I’m looking forward to playing with a smaller group. It really allows for more depth and colours from the cor anglais to come through in a smaller ensemble.
What are you looking forward to in the APO’s 2020 season?
The Trusts Community Foundation: Opera in Concert – Britten’s Peter Grimes. Hands down.