By Sarah Lee, new Erie Phil Second Bassoonist


My name is Sarah Lee, and I'm the recently appointed second bassoonist with the Erie Phil. As I'm new(ish) to the area, I'd love to share a little bit about my journey to get here and how I've fallen in love with Erie.

I was raised in Wichita, Kansas into a wonderfully musical family. (Go ahead and try your Dorothy jokes on me, I've heard them all!) Both of my parents are incredible music educators who instilled a sense of wonder and awe for the gift of music and a passion for education in both my sister and me. I went to college telling myself I was only going to play bassoon for the scholarship I had received (it can come in handy to play such a rare instrument sometimes), double-majoring in Spanish and German. After a year abroad in Munich, I came back with the realization that I needed to be pursuing music, that it was what I truly wanted to do. I can still remember sitting down for lunch with my parents at Panera to tell them, three years into college, that I needed to change majors and colleges. But they were wonderfully supportive, as if they always knew that was what I would do (sometimes kids just need to work things out on their own...), and I switched schools and began to study bassoon seriously.

Fast-forward one degree and a few years of studying later, and I was working on a masters degree in Cincinnati, OH at the conservatory in town in the spring of 2012. Little did I know that a guy I would meet unexpectedly after a run in the courtyard of our apartment building would be so important in my life - he asked me to ice cream, and we were just married this past September! (He has since learned that ice cream truly is the way to my heart.) Tom, my (now) husband, happened to be attending the University of Cincinnati Medical School at the time that we met, and after graduating that spring of 2014, he matched for his residency in orthopedics at Hamot in a place I'd never heard of before: Erie, Pennsylvania.

We spent the next two years dating long-distance as I finished degree work and Tom began his residency. I got to know I-71 and I-90 very well during that time on our many trips back and forth to visit each other! After finishing an Artist Diploma in the spring of 2014, I moved to Erie to be closer to Tom. At the risk of offending "Erie-ites," I was very, very concerned about moving to a place like Erie that was so small and (so I assumed) did not have many good opportunities for me. But I wanted to be closer to Tom, so I needed to be the one to move. I could not have been more wrong! It was a tough adjustment at first, adjusting to a smaller city and a harsh winter, but I quickly became involved in much of the musical life around town. I have found the arts community to be so warm and welcoming here, from great organizations like Erie Arts & Culture that put me in touch with so many people when I first moved here, to the wonderful activities that can fill the weekend from amazing organizations like the Art Museum, the Playhouse, or, of course, the Philharmonic!

Now that Tom and I are looking forward to our next move (we will be moving to Minneapolis in August of 2017 for his fellowship), I can't believe we will have to leave this place! I may not miss the snow (I'm not sure this Kansas girl will ever get used to this much snow...), but I will without a doubt miss the people and the art in in this wonderful community.



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