James Lee III

Notes from the Composer

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

James Lee III

For the Former Things are Passed Away

Performed by Monument Piano Trio and Analog Ensemble.

Scenes Upon Eternity’s Edge is one work in a series of compositions in which I draw my source of inspiration from the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation. For the former things are passed away is inspired by Revelation 18:22–24 and Revelation 7:16–17. The music here portrays the peace of heaven and the new earth. There will be no more crying, hunger, thirst, or death. The music for the most part is tranquil with passages in the higher registers of the piano. At certain points in the movement there are reminiscences of the former struggle.  There is also a sense of sadness, yet an unfolding happiness as “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” The music continues to climb to the heights of bliss in paradise as it fades away into eternity. 

I Must Survive!

Performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra; conducted by Leonard Slatkin

A Different Soldier’s Tale is a four-movement work for orchestra loosely based on stories that my grandfather James Lee Sr. told me about his involvement in World War II. This work is a commentary on his experience on various night patrols as a corporal, his fight for survival, his and other African-American soldiers’ near execution by Nazi soldiers, and the victory celebration back at home in Selma, Alabama. The second movement, “I Must Survive,” is a tour de force of energy. My grandfather used to tell me that his goal when fighting in World War II was survival. There are huge vertical sonorities in the brass, screaming strings, machine-gun firings in the trumpets and percussion, sirens sounding the alarm for a bombing raid, and much more. All of the action culminates in a passage for low strings and a snare drum without the snares. This music is supposed to evoke the idea of an impending execution of African-American soldiers by the Nazis. The suspense lingers until the strings scream and plead for the lives of those soldiers. The music begins to build up again until the movement ends in an explosion of sound.



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Comments [67]

Geraa van Biljon from CAPE TOWN, South Africa

Absolutely Fabulous! Dr. Lee is an amazing composer. I find his music to be both exhilarating and inspiring. He has my vote!

Nov. 01 2010 01:44 AM
Myella Wade from Seattle, WA

Thank you to Dr. Lee for his inspiration through music. His passion is felt through each composition and the story it tells touches the soul. The contrasting movements speak of the talent it takes to involve a listener not versed in higher levels of music. Thank you Dr. Lee for the experience.

Aug. 28 2010 10:12 PM
Faye Wing from Baltimore, MD

Dr. James Lee is a dynamic composer and instructor. His music is exhilarating and soothing to the soul. He has my vote!

Aug. 23 2010 11:14 AM
Pastor William Lee from Indianapolis Indiana

I have had the pleasure of growing up with Dr. Lee. He is my big brother. I have always known he was gifted in music and of course he has my vote.I've listen to him on the piano growing up performing classical music and now others have had the pleasure to know what I have always known and that how gifted and talented he is. Keep up the good work. And may your Blessings continue to flow.

Aug. 15 2010 07:20 PM
Latoria Thomas from Grand Rapids Michigan

I have known Dr. Lee for about 17 years now and he has a strong deep passion for music. He surely has my vote.And I assure any one that has not heard Dr. Lee music to take time to listen to his music and you will see how captivating it is and it will surely leave you wanting to hear more. And when you hear more of his music you would surely know without a doubt to give him your vote. He is very gifted and in his music you can feel the love and passion he puts into it. Keep up the good work Dr. Lee.

Aug. 15 2010 07:04 PM
James Lee ii from Michigan

I have know Dr. Lee since he was born and I have always known he has a natural gift and passionate love for classical music. Music is in his heart in his soul. And he always gives it his all when he compose and perform. That is what he has been talk to give it his all and do the very best of everything in life and he certainly has done that. He has my vote.

Aug. 15 2010 06:48 PM
Lenny Moore from Rockville, MD

Dr. Lee is not afraid to challenge the listener with his music. The auditory delight from his piece comes not from the superficial, but from the depth of the composition as it moves and the listener moves with it. This rewarding experience should be extended to others who can appreciate it.

Aug. 07 2010 07:38 AM
Kevin Scott from Middletown, New York

James Lee III has a wonderful ear for rich sonorities, and a flair for both flamboyant drama, and intimate serenity. He knows what he wants, and whoever plays his music realizes his vision with joy and brilliance. One of my top candidates for this project.

Aug. 06 2010 12:28 PM
James Aikman

James Lee was a student of mine, so I know he possesses a wealth of musical talent. It is great to hear the breadth of expression and direction his music is taking, that should be supported. He can certainly be trusted with this great opportunity through which he will shine !

Aug. 05 2010 12:59 PM
Christopher Taylor from Saint Louis, MIssouri

The work of Dr. James Lee III is unlike any I have heard in a long time. He finds a way to fuse sound and emotion presenting a well crafted piece of work and intelligencia. Dr. Lee is one of few contemporary composers that has created a unique niche of syles, sounds, and unparamounted delivery. I look forward, in eager anticipation, as what will be penned next.

Aug. 04 2010 05:18 PM
Kleber deSousa

Since I've known James and his music, I'm gracious by his powerful and sensitive sound. He is a of the best new American composers. Best wishes for you James!

Aug. 03 2010 08:24 PM
Anika Sampson-Anderson, Soprano from Maryland

Wow! I love the abstract/ melancholy nature of the first piece and the pathos and "Leonard Bernstein like" treatment to the timpani and horns!!! Loved them both!!!! James Lee is a phenominal composer. You should hear his choral works too!

Aug. 03 2010 09:31 AM
Aundi Moore from Silver Spring MD

Your music is so well written. I have enjoyed just sitting here listening to the beautiful melodies! Fantastic Job....

Aug. 02 2010 11:15 PM
Alice Park from Detroit, MI

I love the fact that you don't have to be a fan of orchestral music to understand and be touched by these compositions. Did you know that Dr. Lee did not even start playing the piano until he was already in high school? His raw talent and dedication to his music has brought him so far in just a few years! Bravo!

Aug. 02 2010 07:40 PM
Donnell Josiah, PhD from Hanover, MD

Creatively stunning and intriguing. Abstractions tell the story in both pieces. Keep up the great work.!

Aug. 02 2010 04:21 PM
Aaron Sinnett from Berrien Springs

I've had the pleasure to play for some of orchestral compositions and have found them to be a great pleasure to play. I vote for James Lee III.

Aug. 02 2010 03:12 PM
Dr. Mickey Thomas Terry

I have had the opportunity to hear several compositions by Dr. Lee. The quality is exceptionally high. As a composer, he has something to say, and that is not commonplace these days. Dr. Lee certainly gets my vote.

Aug. 02 2010 10:30 AM
Natalie Cadet from Huntsville, Al

" For the Former Things are Passed Away"- Great piece! I especially love the dissonance associated with the struggle. The undertone of sadness in various parts can be felt! The ending is so beautiful-the violin and flute appropriately depicting that sense of "bliss fading into eternity."

"I Must Survive" is a very intense composition. The harrowing adventure of Mr. Lee's grandfather are richly expressed through the tone color and movement of the piece. I love it!

Jul. 30 2010 02:59 PM
Karen Walwyn from Washington DC

This work is just one of many precious works that I have heard by James Lee III. He writes with beauty, lyricism, passion and depth. This work in particular is especially gorgeous. I look forward to hearing him in NY!

Jul. 25 2010 11:03 PM
Miryam Yardumian

Dr. James Lee is a gifted composer whose music communicates directly, honestly and very sincerely. It is accessible and reaches the audience as a group and, at the same time, each person individually. More people should be able to hear his music.

Jul. 22 2010 11:24 PM
Ann Kosinski from Chicago, IL

What I like the most about Dr. Lee's music is how accessible it is to people who may not normally listen to classical music. It's full of emotion and possesses a vibrancy that I'd like to see emulated by other modern composers.

Jul. 21 2010 08:48 PM
Denique Isaac

Dr. Lee is a mentor to me. His music is not only a joy to listen to but a gift from God. My vote belongs to him.

Jul. 09 2010 02:10 PM
Dennis Isaac from Baltimore,Md.

I've always enjoyed listening to and I have a great respect for Dr.Lee's music in general and his contributions to classical music is like the saying, "keep your fork because the best is yet to come."

Jul. 08 2010 01:20 PM
Solange Brito from Columbia, MD

Dr. Lee's composition is totally awesome. I have had the pleasure of attending numerous performances of his compositions and all I can say is WOW!! Such a strong talent. He gets my vote.

Jul. 03 2010 09:14 PM

Dr. Lee is a wonderfully talented composer. His work is very rich and impressive. He definitely has my vote.

Jul. 03 2010 09:08 PM
Terrence Wilson from Montclair, NJ

I have played James Lee's Piano Sonata on my recital debut in Seattle and it is a masterpiece. The audience went gaga over it, and I intend to play it and other music of his as much as I can. He definitely has my vote! Two thumbs up!

Jul. 01 2010 03:14 PM
Jose Ricardo S. Flores from Washington DC

Dr. James Lee III, what a wonderful composer! His music is powerful and impressive. Definitely he has my vote.

Jun. 30 2010 11:44 PM
Isabel Rincón from Maryland

Even though Dr. Lee's music addresses timeless themes, he speaks to the modern mind. His music is evocative, deep, and challenges a conformist mindset. Definitely, he is a composer that must be taken seriously.

Jun. 30 2010 05:33 PM
Karl Stewart from Towson, MD

Two great compositions by a phenomenal composer! Dr. James Lee III definitely has my vote and support!

Jun. 29 2010 10:47 AM
Wilbur Cort

Truly expressive and profound compositions from an innovative composer. The listening public must hear it.

Jun. 27 2010 11:17 PM
Janet Haynes from Ann Arbor

I Must Survive – is a powerful piece. I can feel the tension and the energy of the soldiers, and the fear they must have had in trying to survive. Dr. Lee’s use of instruments is phenomenal. As I close my eyes, I can see visions of war, of capture and the uncertainty of ones survival.

For the Former Things are Passed Away – is also quite powerful and beautifully reflects the biblical passages that Dr. Lee references. Very ethereal.

I have sung and listened to Dr. Lee’s compositions, and his works have never ceased to amaze me. He is an incredibly talented composer and definitely has my vote.

Jun. 24 2010 09:45 PM
Maria C Santos from Laurel - MD

Talent + Creativity = Inspiring music.
This is James Lee !!!.

Jun. 24 2010 04:32 PM
Jeanne Miller

No one else captures ethereal like James Lee, and he does it again in For the Former Things Pass Away. Exquisite. And yet, I felt the struggle of his grandfather - maybe I Must Survive is my favorite... Either way, his compositions must surely make him one of the Orpheus 4.

Jun. 24 2010 03:37 PM
Paul Haynes

I have found Dr. Lee's compositions, including "For the Former Things are Passed Away" and "I Must Survive !" to be challenging and reflecting an unusual ear/talent for creativity. Even though there must be a better method for such selection, than a "who gets the most votes," I surely would cast my vote for him. His pieces are indeed remarkable.

Jun. 24 2010 07:41 AM
Stephanie from California

Beautiful, serene, and above all, sets a longing tone for his subject...Heaven. We need more music like this.

Jun. 23 2010 03:36 PM
Heather Branton from Ann Arbor, MI

There is nothing simple or easy about Dr. Lee's music. is compositions continue to blow me away with the depth and intensity. I hear something new each time I listen to or sing one of his compositions. I hope he is chosen as the composer. I would be excited to hear what amazing musical construction he would produce next! He definitely has my vote!

Jun. 22 2010 02:38 PM
Caio from Curitiba

Wonderful song

Jun. 21 2010 07:40 PM
Rodrigo from Santa Catarina

Great composer

Jun. 21 2010 07:39 PM
Juliana from Rio de Janeiro

Dr.Jame Lee III is a fantastic composer.

Jun. 21 2010 07:36 PM
Lonieta T. Cornwall from Raleigh, North Carolina

James Lee is an incredible composer who has captured the essence of each topic in sound. "For the Former Things" of Revelations evokes the emotions of pain at the loss of a loved one, while expressing a sense of joy because one day death and crying will cease. It is almost surreal how he has been able to capture the horror of the WWII experience just from hearing the stories of his grandfather. Mr. Lee's compositions have my nomination. Everyone should have the opportunity to EXPERIENCE his music.

Jun. 21 2010 07:36 PM
Marcella from Brasil

Dr.Jame Lee III is a fantastic composer.

Jun. 21 2010 07:35 PM
Vinicius from Buenos Aires

Dr.Jame Lee III is a fantastic composer.

Jun. 21 2010 07:33 PM
Flavia from São Paulo

Dr.Jame Lee III is a fantastic composer.

Jun. 21 2010 07:32 PM
Mylena from Paris

Dr.Jame Lee III is a fantastic composer.

Jun. 21 2010 07:30 PM
Dr. Anita Thesen from Baltimore, MD

As a colleague of Dr. Lee, I have had the opportunity to both hear and perform his compositions on many occasions. He is a profound composer, who communicates with a highly expressive musical language. I give him my full support.

Jun. 21 2010 05:50 PM
Dr. Anita Thesen from Baltimore, MD

As a colleague of Dr. Lee, I have had the opportunity to both hear and perform his compositions on many occasions. He is a profound composer, who communicates with a highly expressive musical language. I give him my full support.

Jun. 21 2010 02:04 PM
Bob patterson

Dr. James Lee is a very fine composer. I loved listening to both "For The Former Things are Passed Away" and "I Must Survive."

Jun. 21 2010 10:11 AM

He certainly has my vote (always). I hope to see you in New York.

Jun. 20 2010 06:17 PM

I certainly vote for his music . He is a fantastic composer.

Jun. 20 2010 06:14 PM
Karine Arenas from Italy

Congratulations , Dr.Lee for the nomination. Tremendous composer. He has my vote.

Jun. 20 2010 06:11 PM
caralota rasquini palaci from Brasil

Otimo musico e compositor

Jun. 20 2010 06:00 PM
Penelope from Brasil

That incredible this composer

Jun. 20 2010 05:38 PM
Gislene from Brasil

The best composer...

Jun. 20 2010 05:36 PM
Alison Rene MT-BC from Ann Arbor, Mi

I love the basis for this thought provoking and powerful work. Clearly James Lee is a sensual and inspiring composer. I vote for his composition.

Jun. 20 2010 12:47 PM
Diane Daniels from Michigan

Dr.Lee is a wonderful composer and I love listening to his music. I had the pleasure of hearing his music perform in Detroit and I was at the Kennedy center when one of his pieces were perform there. Dr. Lee is truly gifted and talented and he has my vote.

Jun. 20 2010 12:44 PM
Paulo Jose

Dr.Lee is a fantastic composer. His work always has my vote.

Jun. 20 2010 10:44 AM
Cacilda Maria from New York

I am so impressed by his music. He has my vote.

Jun. 20 2010 10:41 AM
Zanoni Arenas

I certainly vote for his music after listened all participants. Fantastic talent.

Jun. 20 2010 10:30 AM
Katherine Otten from Toronto

Definitely, James Lee III has my vote.

Unfortunately, it is a short audio because I'd like to hear more from this composer.

Jun. 20 2010 10:24 AM
vdizard from Maryland

Riveting! Dr. Lee is a unique talent. His music has my vote. I hope his work will be chosen.

Jun. 20 2010 10:23 AM
Jacqueline Di Camillo, PhD

Dr.Jame Lee III is a fantastic composer. He definitely has my vote. Everytime when I have the opportunity to hear his work I have the feeling that he composed with his heart and soul. He is a tremendous musician with a inspired talent.

Jun. 20 2010 09:51 AM
Elizabeth O. Weil from Ann Arbor, MI.

Dr. James Lee III's "For the Former Things are Passed Away" and "I Must Survive !" composition is so wonderful!! I would vote for him. His pieces are so explosive, powerful and haunting. He is a fantastic composer.

Jun. 20 2010 01:51 AM

To William Bolcom - I've been describing this competition as this summer's American Idol, as well. With some Survivor thrown in, as well. Best thing would be to have the funds to commission all 60 composers!

Jun. 19 2010 06:49 PM

Dr. Lee is quite an inspiring and phenomenal composer as well as an awesome teacher. I am encouraged everytime I hear his work. We need to hear his music on the airwaves.

Jun. 18 2010 03:31 PM

James Lee most definitely has my vote. His commitment to excellence is evident. His music is refreshing, powerful and inspiring.

Jun. 18 2010 02:53 PM
Renaud Brown from Greenbelt.MD

Dr. Lee was a professor of mine for three of my graduate level courses. One of his colleagues Joel Puckett, another fine composer, both got their doctorates from the University of Michigan. Joel was an undergrad colleague at Shenandoah with me. I have performed James' arrangement of Set Me As a Seal and he has had quite an extensive four years of commissioned works. Leonard Slatkin premiered a portion of Beyond Rivers of Vision in 2006. Come Unto to Me, a choral work was recorded twice in the same weekend in May 6, 7, 2007. Also we share the same faith. You can visit his website www.jamesleeii.com. The Lord has inspired him to compose great works for the edification of the human soul; spirit and there is no doubt that James will be one of the finalist.

Jun. 18 2010 02:43 PM
Wm Bolcom

James Lee was my student and I have strong faith in his talent. I certainly vote for his music.

It's a strange way to commission someone, I think, in this kind of sampling contest, too much like American Idol. I fear it will lead to the same homogenization I deplore in a lot of recent work I see and hear.

Jun. 18 2010 12:23 PM

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