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CHILD PRODIGY

She's just 13 years old, but violinist Rachel Lee, above, has already had a feature article in the New Yorker. And of particular local interest, she will be the soloist with the Orchard Park Symphony Orchestra when David Rudge gives the downbeat to open the 2001-02 season at 7:30 p.m. today in Orchard Park Middle School. By all accounts Lee is a real whiz-bang of a young violinist. She was born in Chicago in 1988 of Korean parents, began studying the violin at age 4, made her performing debut the same year and four years later was studying at New York's Juilliard School with Dorothy DeLay, arguably the violin world's most revered pedagogue. Among DeLay's many outstanding former students are the likes of Itzhak Perlman, Gil Shaham and Midori, who plays the Elgar Concerto with the Buffalo Philharmonic tomorrow and Sunday. Lee, it seems, has a good chance of eventually joining their ranks.

Lee will play the Paganini Violin Concerto No. 1, a work that requires dazzling virtuosity, and has introduced such tricks as guitar imitations and the "springing bow" in which the bow is bounced off the string to make a "pinging" sound. It should give the audience a sample of why Lee has been accumulating raves everywhere she plays. To complete the program, Rudge will conduct Mozart's Overture to "The Magic Flute" and Sibelius' triumphant Symphony No. 2.

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