I see Jenny Lee (李嘉盈)

When Juliette the editor asked me to write something about myself, I felt both flattered and troubled. As a radio presenter, I have interviewed more than 400 artists, from local to international, from prodigies to established personalities. It is very natural for me to report on other people’s story, but rarely speaking of my own. It is at times like this that you stop and think, ‘Where am I, and how did I get here?’ Perhaps what Joshua Bell told me, ‘chances and choices’ , sums up my path, which appears to be improbable at first, but does represent the coming together of interest and experience without me consciously planning. It is a path graciously unfolding itself as I seize every step with diligence and gratitude. Instead of writing a long, dry biography, I decided to share my story with you through a Q&A.

What is your name?

My parents gave me the Chinese name, 李嘉盈. When I was in my teens, I chose Jenny Lee because I liked the loving and intelligent character, ‘Jenny the pink hat’, in a children’s book.

What is your profession?

I present a bilingual radio show on classical music and fine arts. Occasionally, I am involved in TV productions. I am the MC, concert narrator, pre-concert talk speaker for major cultural arts insitutions in HK. Apart from my media work, I founded The Silver Club with Alima Tuet. It is a non-profit organisation to provide arts activities to people aged 50 or above. Silver Angels, our young volunteers, provide performance and community service. I am the Artistic Director of The Silver Club. Also, I am passionate in arts education, I taught courses on the arts at the University of Hong Kong SPACE, AFTEC and HKADC.

What is your passion?

Music and the arts, both Chinese and western. Though I have a wide interest in music, ballet, drama, movie, literature, philosophy, painting and Chinese calligraphy, my passion falls on a Chinese instrument, qin 古琴. I love its subtle colour, it varieties of lines and its close connection with Chinese culture. When playing qin, I have the peaceful feeling of as if returning home after a long journey. Curious as I am, I have started my PhD on qin, hoping to enrich my playing through academic research.

What is your education background?

When I was in Hong Kong, I studied in a Chinese school and was so in love with Chinese culture that I thought I would read Chinese literature. But fate took me to the UK. I first did A-Levels in a boarding school, then furthered my music study at Kings College London and the Royal Academy of Music, where I obtained my Masters in Piano Performance. During my years abroad, I totally immersed myself in western arts and had the opportunities to learn from numerous great minds.

What have been your big achievements so far?

Winning the ‘World Bronze Medal’ (Culture and the Arts) in the 2010 New York Festivals with my radio documentary on the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing; Being awarded the WKCDA Fellowship to enter the 2011 ‘Advanced Cultural Leadership Program’, organized by HKU and UK Clore; Being listed in the HK government’s ‘Central Personality Index’ since 2007; Being the director, script-writer, actress and dancer in a well-acclaimed music theatre production, ‘Duo and Duologue- In memory of Nadia Boulanger’ in 2010; Creating art with young students and those who are young at heart; Passed my driving test.

What was your most embarrassed moment in your career?

It was a hot summer day. I went to a hotel to interview Vladimir Ashkenazy. As soon as the door opened, my glasses steamed up and I had to greet the Maestro in a mist. Ashkenazy laughed and handed me a piece of tissue. I swore I would never wear glasses again.

Who are your inspirations?

Writer/scholar/painter Lin Wen-Yueh (林文月); Qin player/poet/calligrapher Tsar Teh-Yun (蔡德允); Pianist Maria Joao-Pires. They are wise, talented and cultured ladies, with very kind hearts and genuine compassion for the others.

What would you choose to describe yourself?

A pink rose. Pink is the combination of red and white, which symbolize passion and intellect. Rose is poise, elegant, sophisticated and soft, yet it has thorns. Its smell is sweet and attractive. It is usually presented as a gift of love.

What is your favourite image?

Photos with family and friends- full of love and laughter.

Which are your favourite cities?

Hong Kong, Paris and London.

What else do you like to do apart from the arts?

Yoga, cooking and travelling. No matter how busy I am, I always take time to appreciate the beauty in the world, to live with quality and refinement, and to catch up with friends. This attitude perhaps comes from my admiration for the French style of living.

What is your goal in life?

To constantly improve myself and to help people in need.

Why should I follow your columns in ‘In tune’ and ‘In touch’?

Because you are like me, thirst for knowledge, for inspirations from other people’s stories and for the most interesting and beautiful things that life has to offer. What I experience first-hand, I will share with you. In turn, I would be most delighted to hear from you and to know more about you.

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