Dongryul Lee, composer

Dongryul Lee headshot

Seoul-born Chicago based composer Dongryul Lee (이동렬, Korean pronunciation: [iː doŋ ɾjəɾ]) seeks to write music that is deeply oriented around the acoustical nature of sounds and virtuosic classical performance practice, creating profound aural experiences with both dramaturgy and pathos. He finds inspirations in spiritual, literary, and scientific elements, encompassing a diverse range of topics from Borgesian poetics to Number Theory. Of Lee’s A finite island in the infinite ocean, Robert Hasegawa (editor of The Oxford Handbook of Orchestration Studies) writes, “Lee is exploring a complex net of tunings that foreground unfamiliar kinds of consonances between notes of the solo violin. [...] but Lee raises the ante by allowing considerably more complex sonic relationships to emerge. The result is a piece which sounds entirely fresh yet somehow natural in its unfolding.”

His compositions have been performed by ensembles such as the Avanti!Grossman, Kairos, ContemporaneaJupiter, MIVOS, Callithumpian Consort, GMCL, S.E.M., Conference Ensemble, Paramirabo, and Illinois Modern Ensemble. Lee was awarded the Kate Neal Kinley Memorial Fellowship in 2020; the third prize in the first Bartók World Competition (Hungary, 2018); the Special Prize Piero Pezzé in the Composition Competition Città di Udine (Italy, 2018); Second Prize in the 3rd GMCL Competition (Portugal, 2017); and Second Prize in the 2017 Busan Maru International Composition Competition (South Korea). His dissertation research on virtual bells realized by using the Finite Element Method was presented at the IRCAM Forum Workshop in Montreal in February 2021. The performance of his Unending Rose by the Kairos Quartett (Berlin, 2020) was supported by the Presser Foundation Award, Arts Council Korea, Kultur Büro Elisabeth Berlin, and Ministry of Culture of the Land Brandenburg. His Parastrata has been performed in four different cities in Europe and North America, and his A finite island in the infinite ocean was premiered at the Fromm Players Concerts at Harvard by Miranda Cuckson in April 2021. His new pieces are commissioned by Grossman Ensemble (Chicago) and the Callithumpian Consort (Boston) to be premiered in 2021-2022.

            Lee was the 2020-21 Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Chicago’s Center for Contemporary Composition. He began music-making when he was 14 after spending countless hours transcribing all kinds of music with computer, and was largely self-taught thereafter until his twenties by analyzing Bach, attending university music courses, and practicing piano as a late beginner. Dongryul finally came to the US in 2008 to study at the Eastman School (BM in composition) as a 29 years old freshman, after earning a degree in computer science (BS) from Yonsei University and studying music privately while working as a SW engineer. He completed his MM and DMA degrees in composition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he taught classes and administered the McFarland Carillon. His primary composition teachers include Reynold Tharp, Jukka Tiensuu, Heinrich Taube, Stephen Taylor, Erin GeeCarlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, David Liptak, and Tae-hoon Kim. He also studied conducting with Brad Lubman and Mark Davis Scatterday, and piano with Tony Caramia and Yoon Jeong Kim.