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, to create 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.
“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.”
– Robert Hasegawa (editor of The Oxford Handbook of Orchestration Studies)
On A finite island in the infinite ocean
His compositions have been performed by ensembles such as the Avanti!, Grossman, Kairos, Contemporanea, Jupiter, MIVOS, Callithumpian Consort, Axiom Brass, GMCL, S.E.M., Conference Ensemble, Paramirabo, and Illinois Modern Ensemble, among others. He was awarded the Kate Neal Kinley Memorial Fellowship, which supported his study with Jukka Tiensuu (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 2017 Busan Maru International Music Festival Competition (South Korea). The performance of his Unending Rose by the Kairos quartett (Berlin, 2020) was supported by the Theodore Presser Foundation, 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 2021-22.
“Dr. Dongryul Lee’s works are alluring, sparkling, thoughtful, and carefully crafted. Each work has a unique concept, which he researches deeply and personalizes.”
– Augusta Read Thomas (Director of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition)
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 earned degrees in computer science (BS) and music composition (BM) from Yonsei University and the Eastman School respectively. He completed his MM and DMA degrees in composition at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he taught classes and administered the McFarland Carillon. 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.
“Passages sound like dense reefs of exotic corals. […] In an appealing illusion, the violinist created a faint echo effect, as if subtly enlarging the space.”
– THE STRAD (Bruce Hodges) on A finite island in the infinite ocean
He studied composition with Jukka Tiensuu, Reynold Tharp, Heinrich Taube, Stephen Andrew Taylor, Erin Gee, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, David Liptak, and Tae-hoon Kim, and conducting with Brad Lubman and Mark Davis Scatterday, and piano with Tony Caramia, Ji Yun Lee, and Yoon Jeong Kim.
Works in Paramirabo's repertoire