Class of 2020 alumnus Michael Lee has kept his passion for music and live performance alive as he is a full-time orchestra and board member of the Davenport Pops Orchestra at Yale University.
The Davenport Pops Orchestra or “DPops” is the youngest and only pop orchestra group at Yale. It is entirely student-led from arrangers to composers to musicians. The musical selection consists of a diverse range of genres including classical standards, jazz, Broadway musicals, and film and television scores.
“My favorite part of being a member of DPops is seeing pop culture music be brought to life in the orchestral format and, most importantly, performing it!” said Michael. “Growing up, I was a big fan of music from movies, TV, musicals, video games, and other pop culture spheres. In middle school, I wanted to arrange and/or perform some piece from pop culture and little did I know I could realize that aspiration at DPops.”
Michael commented that it was his time in the Hamden Hall Jazz Band and spending time animating and editing the virtual performances while at home during quarantine that sparked his interest in joining the group. He shared the videos to his friends at Yale, who encouraged him to not only continue video editing their virtual performances but to come out for the audition. Michael formally auditioned on the clarinet and has been a member since his sophomore year.
He noted that a few of his favorite performances thus far have been selections from fan-favorite films and shows ranging from Encanto to Game of Thrones, a medley of iconic Nintendo games, and a Party Mix of recent dance hits. This spring, he will be joining the newly-founded Clarinet Collective of Yale.
While reflecting on his time at Hamden Hall, Michael noted that some of his favorite memories included the Cross-Country meets during Homecoming Weekend as the team would decorate the course landmarks with photos. He also enjoyed the opening nights of the musicals under the direction of Karl Gasteyer as he said it is intriguing and satisfying to do a show in front of an audience for the first time.
“Hamden Hall helped me embrace the creativity of performing arts,” said Michael. “I made several friends in the music and theater communities, and I couldn’t help but try auditioning for a musical. And it was fun! I slept on performative skills for so long, and the newfound enjoyment pushed me to take performance seriously. All in all, I thank Hamden Hall for unlocking the performative side of myself, which I continue to utilize here at Yale.”
Michael is currently a junior at Yale University where he is studying physics with a minor in data science. Aside from being a member of the Davenport Pops Orchestra, he works in one of Yale’s science labs that specializes in microwave-based quantum technology and information. He designs parts for a quantum bit dilution refrigerator and studies mathematical information theory for correcting errors in quantum information systems.