While we all describe WASO as one big family, for some they really are family. Kathryn Lee, Violin and Semra Lee-Smith, A/Associate Concertmaster went from colleagues to sisters-in-law when Kathryn married Semra’s brother (and former WASO musician) Shaun Lee-Chen.

How did you meet?

Kathryn - Semra was on the panel of my casual audition. I was quite terrified going in and she was so kind.

Semra - I was on the audition panel when Kathryn came to do a WASO casual audition at the age of 16. Of course she played like a star and became our youngest casual musician.

What do you each love about the violin?

Kathryn - What’s not to love? It’s an incredibly expressive instrument and also very challenging. It keeps me on my toes.

Semra - It’s given me the opportunity to see the world and meet some extraordinary people. Also, the fact that my violin teacher mother introduced me to it is very meaningful to me. 

You’re clearly one very musical family; do you ever work on musical projects with other family members?

Kathryn - Semra and I play a lot of weddings and events together around Perth. It can be very fun and a completely different vibe to the orchestra. Plus we get to people and outfit watch; sisterly bonding activities. She invited me to play chamber music with her ensemble last year and I loved it. Hopefully, we will get to play together soon! 

Semra - Kathryn is the co-owner of Dolce Ensembles and often hires me to play for her. Kathryn also collaborated with me last year in a concert for my chamber music series in Darlington. Shaun and I both teach at UWA so we sometimes do some teaching/examining together. 

Semra Lee-Smith and Kathryn Lee

What is the best thing about working with a family member?

Kathryn - Having a loyal and incredible person that you get to collaborate with and see at work every day. It truly is one of the most special parts of the job. I’m forever saying my sister-in-law is my boss.

Semra - Knowing there’s someone you can absolutely rely on and trust. 

What do you love about being part of WASO?

Kathryn - Everything! I have a full-time job in an amazing orchestra that is filled with so many close friends (and now family!) of mine. It is truly a dream job.

Semra - WASO has been my musical family since 1996. I’ve played alongside past teachers and students over the years. The sense of belonging is quite extraordinary and very Perth! It is a bonus and an added dimension of closeness to have actual family within my musical family circle. 

What do you admire most about each other?

Kathryn - Semra is one of the most intelligent, delightful, beautiful and funny women you will ever meet. I have always adored her violin playing; she is phenomenally skilled with the most incredible musicianship. Her smile lights up a room and she always has a hilarious story to tell (often about my husband). Also, try to score an invite to dinner at her house, as her cooking skills are next level. 

Semra - Kathryn is an incredibly versatile musician and a very smart businesswoman. She’s got the biggest heart and is the glue between our families. She’s the one who will not just remember all the birthdays but organise the party too. She has an excellent sense of humour and a lot of patience - qualities which come in extremely handy when living with my brother. 

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