Based in the United States, Coreisa Lee is a multi-faceted and eclectic artist of many genres. At present, she is a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate and provost fellow at West Virginia University, USA.
MA: Hi Coreisa! Where are you this summer and also share with us what is coming up for you?
CL: Hi Mike! This summer I was in Ohio where I completed my Masters degree studying under Dr. Conor Nelson - a former student of Linda Chesis.
I took the time during the pandemic to relax, take care of myself and dive into creating my own music. It was a very musical and restful summer and I was excited to move to West Virginia to start and claim a fellowship I was recently gifted. This fellowship is from the Provost office at West Virginia University and is a program that is funding me an opportunity to receive my Doctoral degree (PhD/DMA).
I am grateful because WVU is a Research 1 university that encourages creativity and getting involved with the music industry. I don’t like to speak much about future projects until they are secure, but I am definitely in the works of continuing to build my social media and personal creative projects. These next three years are going to be exciting and I am super excited!
MA: Tell us what you’ve been up to during the quarantine? How have you kept busy both musically, personally, and leisurely?
CL: During the quarantine I dove into my own musical creativity. I vowed to learn programs like Adobe Premiere and I started to write my own music. I decided to take a back seat and just allow things to happen naturally. I didn’t pursue anything demanding or stressful and I even took a long break from my flute.
Through my rest, I found my voice and other contributions to this world. I was a featured performer for the National Flute Association, and that performance they featured my Russia performance.
During the time, I chose to connect with more flutist around the world, I worked on my writing skills by submitting a write up in the NFA Flute Quarterly and I also joined the NFA's creative team and board to interview other performers. I got to speak to and meet with some incredible people, including a talk with Helen Blackburn, principal Flutist of the Dallas Opera, and Aralee Dorough, principal flutist of the Houston Symphony, and many more. Working alongside the president of the NFA, I took a position of responsibility to help others bring their voices to light. It was such a beautiful thing to sit back and uplift others and in turn I was majorly uplifted. I’m so blessed to have a positive spin on the quarantine/pandemic.
In regards to distressing outside of music, of course for me there was the notorious Netflix (and chill) but I also started discovering my old workouts from track and field back when I was in high school. I am a very active person - I started running up hills and creating workouts every week to keep me out in nature and moving.
I love all art forms!! In the past I wrote poetry and I ((love)) to dance. I have specifically dived into African popular music and their dance culture and you can catch my journey with this music on my instagram. Recently I've joined a class given by Valerie Samulski and recommended by Linda Chesis, who also takes part. This class is for all flute players and musicians - it focuses on coming back inside of your body to find your breath; it's pretty amazing and magical stuff. I recommend this class to all!
MA: When I saw your video recording of the ballad "To You" by Russian composer, Eugene Magalif - it really showcases your warmth and authentic musicianship. Can you tell us about your path at present - what styles have you showcased outside of the standard French flute repertoire or music of J.S. Bach.
CL: Thank you so much, Mike! I really enjoyed creating “To You” - although it was totally a struggle during the process. I’ve always been interested in teams and creating them, but sometimes, if not everyone is on the same wavelength, it can create a struggle. It’s not something that cannot be overcome but it’s just something that has to be dealt with. I’m grateful it all worked out though for this project and I’m really happy it is has received such a wide acceptance and love. I’m also grateful for the composer and his dedication to my music and performance. This piece had been dedicated to me and my ability to blend genres so it's perfect that you have asked me about my influences.
From a young age I have learned and studied both jazz and classical music (but jazz first actually). With both of these genres being the classics of all other genres, I have had a very fruitful career since my youth. I’ve dived into all types of music and I’ve done many gigs crossing many genres. I am a person that does not like to be limited, so I cross all genres and have a resume that encourages my abilities to continue down this path.
As a classical musician, I have studied many of the solo standards and received most recently received my masters, but I’ve gone on with a solo tour in Russia. I was planning a second one in Belarus before covid. As an alum I toured Spain as the principal flutist of the New York Youth Symphony. I’ve played for the United Nations 69th anniversary alongside Lang Lang and Sting, and I’ve also had three tv experiences featured around my classical career, including on the Jimmy Kimmel show where blank was the featured guest that I had performed behind. My main focus has been and will continue to be classical music.
As a Jazz musician, my first teacher in Birmingham, Alabama, was Dr. Frank E. Adams, a multi-instrumentalist that played for Duke Ellington, Sun Ra and other jazz greats. He taught me how to play the flute and is my first inspiration in the jazz world. Since picking up my flute I have dabbled and learned the art of Jazz improvisation. Growing up in the 21st century, we have seen Jazz grow into other genres like pop, rock and other popular sub genres. So in other words, for me and my career, I play it all!
I have performed as a Jazz flutist for a special recording with YouTube spaces, and I have gone on tour with Hollywood Anderson, an American Idol alum. I have worked on my own personal classical and jazz fusion pieces and projects, including a special grant project that allowed me to work with a 12 piece Latin band. I have done many many gigs where my Jazz skills have been required and I am continuing to go outside of my world and learn more about music as a whole.
I have friends in the Hip Hop world, cinema world, EDM and Afro pop worlds and so forth. It's all about being willing to humble yourself and learn something new - I feel the attitude in the classical world is very elitist and does not allow students to see that we all relate more with our differences. The start of Hip Hop is very similar to the start of New Music...research it! Also Quincy Jones is a student of Nadia Boulanger. My point is, instead of seeing the similarities and building to join forces, we have had New Music composers like Milton Babbitt express the need for classical music to retreat from the public eye. I personally don’t agree and I believe we need to be more open minded and welcoming to all music and the respect what it brings. Being open minded is the new future and the new norm - you can quote me on that when we arrive to the later future!
As far as other genres, I would honestly say to the readers, stay tuned and look out for the many collaborations that I’m excited to be a part of. It's all about networking and getting out of your comfort zone. Other than classical, you can find and follow my instagram for my jazz journey! @reisalee
MA: You’ve been to Russia for a concert with Eugene Magalif not too long ago, right?
Name three places you really want to visit post-pandemic!
CL: Yes, I was in Russia in April of 2019. The memories I hold towards that trip are heavy and beloved and I definitely look forward to going back in the future. Traveling is something that I truly love to do and I look forward to doing more post covid.
I love this question and I have a simple answer: Three places overall that I really want to visit: Africa, Japan and Paris, France. Whether music related or just a visit - I have dreams to travel to these places.
MA: With the uncertainty of the pandemic for the coming Autumn season particularly for students in the US. Can you give any advice to the young musicians that are preparing for auditions and the application process for conservatories/universities overall? Can you share any advice or inspiration?
CL: Oh man, times are tough and my heart sincerely goes out to all young musicians that are preparing for the next step in their educational journey. My advice to those who are reading this, please take care of yourself. Your body is your temple that breathes life into your beautiful instrument. Yes, have the push to conquer your 10,000 hours, but do not let that get in the way of healthy habits. Find other ways to “chill” or relax - exercise, write poetry, find another art form to create in. There are so many ways to allow your mind and body to relax and as an artist we are the finders of our creativity.
Stay in touch with your friends, family, and colleagues. Remember that everyone is experiencing the same thing at this time. More than ever humanity should be valued deeply during these times. Be careful not to assume what other's are experiencing - if you have the energy and time, make sure to check up on your loved ones. Don’t allow social media to take over your emotions - it’s only the internet and the internet can be wild. No matter what is going on around you, stay strong in your journey and where you are heading. Don’t give up!
If circumstances have held you back, that’s alright, figure out a plan and follow those steps to greatness and success. No champion can say they have never experienced setbacks - your only job is to never give up! We all - will get through this!
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Marianne Williamson below:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
© Michael Alampi - Unblocked Musician