Janice Lee and husband, Michael Moore live in Renton’s Kennydale neighborhood – just two blocks from the Kennydale Methodist Church, where Janice plays the piano for Sunday services. I attended the service this past Sunday, and was able to talk with them afterwards. Janice is not a typical church pianist. She also plays the cello with the Seattle Philharmonic Symphony, and Michael is a core member of the symphony and plays the bass.
Janice moved to the Kennydale neighborhood of Renton in 2009 where Michael had been living for over twenty years. She talks about how friendly everyone in the neighborhood is. She came to Seattle from Taiwan in 2003 to attend the University of Washington, promising her family she would return after earning her degree. But after graduating with a master’s degree in cello performance, she was accepted by the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra, where she met Michael in the cello section in 2006. They have been living lives filled with music since then.
Janice’s mother was a vocalist and pianist and was her first music teacher. Her grandfather was also a talented violinist and music teacher. Janice said that her father only learned to play one song on the violin in order to impress her mother when they first met. Janice said she is also very grateful that her dad spent a lot of time with her making her practice.
Janice also teaches both piano and cello here and in neighboring communities, with over thirty students, half of whom live in Renton. One of her students performed at the Sunday service. She must be an amazing teacher, because this eight year old boy holding a cello nearly as big as him was incredible! One of her students was just accepted into the Bellevue Youth Symphony, and at least two students are ready to play with the Seattle Festival Orchestra. One student, Ashley Hwang, will be performing at Renton’s Fall Family Concert, as will Janice and Michael.
Although exposed to many instruments as a child, including the violin, piano and harp, Michael fell in love with the cello at age ten and never looked back. He was raised in Auburn and graduated from Bellingham College, before “wandering into the opera at the right time” where after years as a cellist, he then started playing the bass three seasons ago. “It’s so much fun and wonderful to have this new approach to playing a stringed instrument.”
Besides his position in the symphony, Michael is also the Scenic Studios Manager for the Seattle Opera. The studio is here in Renton, where they design sets for major productions in Seattle. Michael, who has a sense of humor equal to his musical talent, calls it a “top secret laboratory” where they are “creating tomorrow’s art today.”
They are presently working on the set for “Elf”: a Christmas show to be performed in Seattle during the holidays.
Together, Janice and Michael are part of a cello group, with duets to quartets to groups of six or eight musicians who perform benefit concerts for fund raising projects, including at Swanson Nurseries and the Brain Cancer Walk in Seattle. They have also performed at the Merrill Gardens Retirement Home.
If you want to see this talented couple perform in person, remember to attend the Fall Family Concert at the Ikea Performing Arts Center, October 21st at 2pm.