When we first met Matthew Lee, he was a starry-eyed high school senior with a staggering list of academic and musical achievements – and even loftier goals for the future. A prodigy on the violin, Matthew made his debut at Carnegie Hall at 18 and graduated from East Chapel Hill High School as a National Merit Scholar, star athlete and valedictorian. Back then, Matthew told us he hoped to attend an Ivy League school and go into medicine.
Five years later, this serial overachiever has exceeded the goals he set for himself. After high school, Matthew studied neuroscience as an undergraduate at Brown, where he humbly admits he “learned a few things and forgot just as much.” In August, he entered a four-year program at Brown’s Alpert Medical School as a student in the Liberal Medical Education Program.
Meanwhile, Matthew has kept alive his passion for music, playing in the Brown Orchestra for three years and composing music whenever – and wherever – inspiration strikes him. “Music has become an integral part of who I am,” says Matthew, who returned to Carnegie Hall for round two last year. “It’s an honor to play on a stage graced by Jay Z, the Beatles and Tchaikovsky.”
In November, Matthew finally got a view from the audience at the premiere of a performance of his own concerto for string quartet, a piece of music he had written while at Brown. In February, he debuted his newest violin piece, titled “In Carolina Blue” – an ode to his Chapel Hill roots.
And music isn’t all he’s composing. “Since high school, I have been reading and writing more poetry,” he says. “A few of my poems are decent.” Decent enough to land him in the finals of the 2014 Stanford Code Poetry Slam, a nationally reputed competition. At the end of the day, the most impressive thing about Matthew isn’t what’s on his resume – it’s his refreshing humility and wit.