Tom Lee is a London-based Scottish percussionist and timpanist, enjoying a diverse musical life as soloist, chamber and orchestral musician.
Since graduating from the Royal Academy of Music with a master’s degree in 2014, Tom has worked with the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic and Aurora Orchestras, and the London Mozart Players. Tom has recently been on trial with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra as Principal No.3.
As the percussionist on the 2014/15 London Philharmonic Orchestra Foyle Future Firsts scheme, Tom enjoyed participating in education workshops across London, including a particularly rewarding project with the homeless charity Crisis in East London. Since then, Tom has led his own workshops in various schools in London and its surrounding areas.
Tom has won various awards, including the Yamaha YMFE 2013 Percussion Scholarship, the 2012 & 2013 Avedis Zildjian Scholarships, and the 2012/2013 Leverhulme Orchestral Mentorship Percussion Fund.
Tom has recently launched a percussion quartet with colleagues from the Royal Academy, which performed for the Nonclassical record label in December 2015. He also enjoys playing congas with
Sal-Supremo, a new salsa band based in North London.
When not performing, Tom enjoys cycling, arranging music for percussion and playing the piano.
Tom’s place in Southbank Sinfonia is generously supported by Joe Ryan.
What or who inspired you to become a professional musician?
My parents were a big influence growing up – my dad’s a jazz reeds player and my mum’s a flautist, and they were the ones encouraging me to practise when I really didn’t want to! Other than that I think it was composers - Beethoven, Stravinsky and Strauss spring to mind.
What is your most embarrassing or amusing musical moment?
I’ve had rather a lot of embarrassing musical moments, but the best probably has to be when I was playing cymbals in the Prelude to Act 1 of Lohengrin by Wagner. The first entry comes pretty near the end of the piece, and at a hugely climactic moment. I made a big show of picking the cymbals up, getting ready to play them. When I finally put them together, the left cymbal strap decided to snap, and the 22-inch piece of metal went flying up two metres in the air! It grazed the 4th horn player’s arm (without any real damage, thankfully) and came crashing down, spinning for a good few seconds like a two pence piece. Apparently the people in the stalls didn’t even notice…
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us
I’m a founding member of the London Vegetable Orchestra.