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Described as “full of imagination and technical expertise,” ANDREW MCKENNA LEE’s music is an integral synthesis of contrasting elements from a variety of styles and influences. A native of Charleston, SC, he began his musical studies on the guitar at age twelve and soon after went on to pursue composition. In recent years, his music has been performed by such ensembles as the Brentano String Quartet, the New Jersey Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, the Swedish percussion ensemble Kroumata, and the American chamber sextet eighth blackbird.
His works have been presented at many festivals, including the International Music Festival of Toroella de Montgrí in Spain, International Gaudeamus Week of the Netherlands, the Stockholm Arts and Sciences Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. His music has also been played in frequent rotation on WNYC’s New Sounds and Evening Music programs, and featured on the nationally syndicated radio show Classical Guitar Alive! with host Tony Morris and in a segment of New Hampshire Public Television’s weekly broadcast, New Hampshire Outlook.
As a guitarist, he has studied privately with James Ferla, David Leisner, and Laura Oltman, and has participated in master classes with Manuel Barrueco, Alvaro Pierri, and Carlos Barbosa-Lima. Recently, he has given solo performances featuring his own compositions for guitar in venues such as New York’s Symphony Space, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the Annenberg Center for the Arts in Philadelphia, and the Royal University College of Music in Stockholm. He has also collaborated in live performances with other artists, including renowned bassist Mark Dresser, cellist Frances-Marie Uitti, and composer Steven Mackey.
His recent debut CD release, Gravity And Air, was picked as one of the “Top Ten Classical Recordings of 2009” in TimeOut Chicago, and another recently released project, Solar/Electric, has also met with critical praise, most notably from composer Steve Reich, who claimed Lee’s realization of his work Electric Counterpoint, “A magnificent performance, beautifully recorded.” Upcoming projects include a new work for violin and piano for violinist Jessica Mathaes, and a new piece for the Anubis Saxophone Quartet, both to be premiered in 2010.
After completing undergraduate work in composition at Carnegie Mellon University, Andrew went on to obtain a master’s degree in 2000 from the Manhattan School of Music. His primary teachers have been Leonardo Balada, Richard Danielpour, and Steven Mackey. He has received awards and fellowships from ASCAP, the New York Youth Symphony, Princeton University, the South Carolina Arts Council, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Hermitage Artist Retreat, the American Music Center, and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music. He is currently completing his Ph.D. in composition at Princeton University, and is a member of the New York-based composers collective, Random Access Music.