Described as “an astoundingly virtuosic guitar player… and far more importantly… a thoughtful and original composer,” (Jayson Greene, eMusic) ANDREW MCKENNA LEE’S music has been commissioned and programmed by some of the world’s leading ensembles and organizations, including the Brentano String Quartet, eighth blackbird, Kroumata, Concert Artists Guild, the American Composers Orchestra, the New Jersey Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Aspen Music Festival, the Stockholm Arts and Sciences Festival, International Gaudeamus Week of the Netherlands, and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. As a performer, Mr. Lee has given solo concerts featuring his original compositions for guitar in some of the country’s most esteemed venues, including 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 Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Other recent concert highlights include appearances at the Historic Asolo Theater and the New Music New College series in Sarasota, FL; the Boston Classical Guitar Society’s Festival 21; the Orange County Guitar Circle; and Old First Concerts in San Francisco.
An artist who is both adept and comfortable in blending seemingly disparate styles, Lee has also performed with rock legends Billy Idol and former Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones in his own large ensemble arrangements of songs by David Bowie, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. This stylistic fluency has found its way into several of his own works, including Sunrise from the Bottom of the Sea — an homage to Jimi Hendrix — and his Scordatura Suite, which prompted one music writer to comment, “I’m not sure if he was going for the rock/classical synthesis, but if he was, it’s the best effort of its kind I have yet heard.” (Soundboard).
To date, Lee has released two commercial recordings. His debut release on New Amsterdam Records, Gravity and Air, was named one of the year’s “Top Ten Best Classical Albums” of 2009 in Time Out Chicago. Released one year later, Solar/Electric 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.” Currently, Lee is at work on a large-scale song project that draws freely from a diverse array of influences ranging from classic rock and psychedelia to minimalism and polyphonic Renaissance vocal music. Scored for two electric guitars, electric bass, drums, mallet percussion, string quartet, and three women’s voices, the project is scheduled for release on New Amsterdam Records in 2013-2014.
Other recent projects include the works Curio (2011), commissioned by the Italian guitarist Sergio Sorrentino for the 20th International Guitar Festival of Lagonegro, Italy; Obstinate Snakes! (2010) for the Anubis Saxophone Quartet; and Crescive Variations (2010) for Austin Symphony concertmaster Jessica Mathaes. Upcoming concert engagements include performances as part of New York’s SONiC Festival, as well as the prestigious Guitar Foundation of America Convention in the summer of 2012, where he will give the world premiere of a new work by composer Yiorgos Vassilandonakis.
Mr. Lee holds degrees in composition from Carnegie Mellon University, the Manhattan School of Music, and Princeton University, where his primary teachers were Leonardo Balada, Richard Danielpour, and Steven Mackey. Additionally, he has studied guitar with James Ferla, David Leisner, and Laura Oltman, and in masterclasses with Manuel Barrueco, Carlos Barbosa-Lima, and Alvaro Pierri. 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, Meet the Composer, and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music. He is also a member of the New York based composers collective, Random Access Music.