Tuesday, February 8, 2011

James Lee III: 'The work that Dr. Thompson will premiere is my sonata for viola and piano that he commissioned'

[James Lee III (b. 1975)]

Yesterday AfriClassical posted: “National Gallery of Art: Marcus Thompson & Judith Gordon in Music of Bach, Schumann, James Lee III & Enescu Feb. 13.” Prof. Lee promptly responded with a new photograph and an updated bio. Here is his explanation of the new work:

“The work that Dr. Thompson will premiere is my sonata for viola and piano that he commissioned me to compose for this particular concert on February 13 at the National Gallery of Art. The sonata is in three movements and the first movement is loosely based off of the book of Revelation chapter 13 in sonata-form. The second movement is a passionate and reflective look at the character of the mixed multitude that John saw standing on the sea of glass in Revelation 7 and 15. The last movement is a rondo.
Thank you.
James Lee III

James Lee III, born 1975 in St. Joseph, Michigan cites as his major composition teachers Michael Daugherty, William Bolcom, Bright Sheng, Betsy Jolas, Susan Botti, Erik Santos and James Aikman. As a composition fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in the summer of 2002, he added Osvaldo Golijov, Michael Gandolfi, Steven Mackey and Kaija Saariaho to his roster of teachers, and studied conducting with Stefan Asbury. Recent premieres and performances of his music include; Papa Lapa by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Thomas Wilkins conducting, in 2001; the premiere of Sympathy, for flute, percussion, harp and chorus, given by the Leigh Morris Chorale in St. Paul in 2002; A Place for God's People, an orchestral work premiered at Andrews University.

In 2002 Dr. Lee had two premieres at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts. Those premieres include The Appointed Time for string quartet and Psalm 61 for members of the Boston Symphony Chorus. Through the Eyes of Time for orchestra was commissioned by the Alabama All-State Festival Orchestra and introduced in Mobile under Anthony Elliott in 2004. Recently Maestro Leonard Slatkin has begun to champion Dr. Lee’s work. In 2006 he premiered Beyond Rivers of Vision in Washington D.C. at the Kennedy Center. During his inaugural concerts as the new music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Mr. Slatkin premiered A Different Soldier’s Tale with the orchestra in Detroit on December 11 – 14, 2008. The National Symphony, Baltimore/Soulful Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Memphis Symphony, and the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra have performed James Lee III’s orchestral works. Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performed Beyond Rivers of Vision on January 29 – 30, 2010.

The 2009-2010 season has included world premieres of 12 Preludes of the New Earth for piano by Daniel Lau (November), A Clean Heart for mixed chorus by the Baltimore Choral Arts Society (December), Scenes Upon Eternity’s Edge for flute, violin, cello, and piano by the Monument Piano Trio and flute (February), and a Morgan Fanfare by the Morgan State University Band with Melvin Miles directing (April). During the 2009 - 2010 season Dr. Lee has won the Wladimir and Rhoda Lakond Award of $10,000 from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City. He was also the composer-in-residence for the Ritz Chamber Players, an African-American chamber music society based in Jacksonville, Florida. Performances with that organization included the Florida premiere of The Appointed Time for string quartet. Pianist Terrence Wilson also performed Dr. Lee’s sonata for piano in Seattle, Washington on April, 29, 2010.

In May 2010, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performed a movement from Beyond Rivers of Vision. James Lee III has been commissioned by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to compose a work about the life of Harriet Tubman to be premiered in September 2011. He has also been named the winner of the Sphinx Consortium Commission in which Mr. Lee will compose a new work that will be premiered by about eight to nine orchestras during the 2011-2012 season. Mr. Michael Tilson Thomas will give the actual premiere of the new work with the New World Symphony Orchestra in Miami, FL in October 2011. Dr. James Lee III is also an associate professor of composition and theory at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland.

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