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Lee, Michael

Lee, Michael

Michael Lee

Prize winner composer of the Composition competition
“The contemporary guitar 2018″ for his work for guitar “Unmasked” 

Michael’s influences range from Stravinsky to hints of jazz improvisation, as well as 16th century polyphony. Growing up in Maryland and New York, his first musical experiences were through trumpet performance, primarily in jazz improvisation and baroque music. Eclectic in styles, notations, orchestrations, and ensembles, his music has been cited for its “rhythmical drive [and] traditional harmonic touches that are both surprising and inevitable” [Portland Herald Press];

“Elsewhere, tradition is gleefully thrown to the wind…with its ever-shifting rhythms, timbres, and moods” [Navano]; “vivid and visceral orchestrations” [REMI Arts.]; “fluid drama [and] focused intensity” [AblazeRecords]; “promising” [BMI].

The Albany Symphony, Juilliard Orchestra, Lyris Quartet, New York Virtuoso Singers, ALEA III Contemporary Ensemble, Thornton Edge, and the Chamber Music of Rochester, among others, have recently performed Michael’s music. He is the recipient of the Charles Ives Scholarship from the Academy of Arts and Letters, the Arthur Friedman Prize from the Juilliard Orchestra Composition Competition, the 2012 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers’ Award for Contrasting Visions, among others.

Michael Lee was born in Atlanta, GA, and raised in Maryland and New York. He is the former graduate of the USC Thornton School of Music (D.M.A, 2017), the Juilliard School (M.M.), and the Eastman School of Music (B.M.). His second language is Korean (intermediate).

For more information, please visit his website at

“Unmasked” for Classical Guitar

Several contemporary compositions have been associated with the use of satire as an important underlying motive to their works (Pierrot by Schoenberg, Petrouchka by Stravinsky, among many others). Inspired this tradition, this work is in three parts in my attempt to show the two “sides” or interpretations of the popular stock character, Pierrot. Although satirical gestures are used throughout this work, those motions function more as a haze or pretense to the deeper, darker storyline throughout this 5-minute work. Unmasked is hopefully rhythmically enjoyable and challenging for the listener, with constant use of various scales and colorful pitch combinations.

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