DONGRYUL LEE


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Seoul-born Chicago based composer Dongryul Lee (이동렬 [iː doŋ ɾjəɾ], pronouns: he/him) crafts music that entwines the acoustical nature of sounds with clarity, pathos, and reinvented classical expressions. Embracing the joy of rendering ludic permutations or interstellar sonic fables, he aspires to reach the human spirit through epistemic journeys. The dual identities of his backgrounds, a Korean immigrant living in the States, a born Catholic and learned Buddhist thinker, and a composer with a computer science degree, also greatly influence his musical language. He finds inspirations in spiritual, literary, and scientific elements, encompassing a diverse range of topics from Borgesian poetics and Jungian Philosophy to Number Theory, Deep Learning, and Engineering Campanology, oftentimes employing yearlong in-depth interdisciplinary research.


“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)


Creative Activities
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)[1]; the Special Prize Piero Pezzé in the Composition Competition Città di Udine (Italy, 2018)[2]; Second Prize in the 3rd GMCL Competition (Portugal, 2017)[3]; and Second Prize in 2017 Busan Maru 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, and Kultur Büro Elisabeth Berlin. His compositions have been performed by ensembles such as the Avanti!, GrossmanKairos, Contemporanea, Jupiter, MIVOS, Callithumpian Consort, Axiom Brass, GMCL, S.E.M., Conference Ensemble, Paramirabo, Cello Loft, and Illinois Modern Ensemble, among others. Dongryul has collaborated with a number of celebrated soloists including Miranda Cuckson (the Fromm Players Concerts at Harvard in 2021), Ariel Mo (Brown and Jordan Hall, Boston in 2022 and 2024), Eugenia Jeong, Laura Liu, Hanqian Zhu, Tomoko Ono, and Chukyung Park.



Positively apocalyptic. Quotations of the Dies Irae mingle with Buddhist chant to dispel any notion of a silver lining.”
Landon Hegedus (Chicago Classical Review), On Missa Laudato Si’

Early Life and Education 
Lee began writing music with the computer when he was 13. After probing all kinds of music for 10 years while leading rock bands, analyzing Bach and Final Fantasy, and writing atonal music without formal exposure to serialism, Dongryul finally came to the US in 2008 to study at the Eastman School (BM) as a 29 year old freshman. To prepare for this late embarkation, he studied music and practiced piano privately for five years[4] while working as software engineer[5], after earning a degree in computer science and industrial system engineering (BS) from Yonsei University. He completed his MM and DMA degrees in composition-theory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he administered the McFarland Carillon. Lee was the 2020-21 CCCC Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Chicago’s Center for Contemporary Composition. Lee is an assistant professor of music at Loyola University Chicago, where he serves as the coordinator of Theory and Composition. He previously taught at North Central College, Harper College, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.


“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


Studies
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. Additionally, he studied at short-term academies with Chaya Czernowin (SICPP 2021), Jennifer Higdon (ACA 2020), Jukka Tiensuu (Sävellyspaja 2018), Julian Anderson (SICPP 2018), Mario Davidovsky (Composers Conference 2017), and Joshua Fineberg (Domaine Forget 2017), and attended masterclasses and seminars led by Hans Abrahamsen, Tristan Murail, Unsuk Chin, Oliver Knussen, Ben Johnston, Brian Ferneyhough and Helmut Lachenmann to name a few. He also studied rock vocal techniques in 1999 with Myungki Kim, a renowned Korean underground heavy-metal vocalist.


“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


1. Adjudicated by the jury: Thomas Adès (chair), Unsuk Chin, Chaya Czernowin, Gyula Fekete.
2. Adjudicated by the jury: Michele Biasutti (President), Edmund Campion, Juraj Ďuriš, Harald Muenz, Roberta Silvestrini
3. Adjudicated by the jury: Ivan Fedele (President), Gerhard Stabler, Clotilde Rosa, João Madureira, Pedro Figueiredo, Jaime Reis, and Jorge Sá Machado
4. Before coming to the US in 2008, Lee studied music privately, piano with Yoon Jeong Kim (2003-2004), Ji Yun Lee (2006-2007); piano and music theory with Hee Yeon Chin (2004-2006); counterpoint and composition with Tae-hoon Kim (2006-2007); aural skills with Nam Hui Lee (2005), and attended music courses at Yonsei University–Tonal Harmony I (2000) and II (2007), Orchestration, 16th Century Counterpoint, Conducting Technique (all 2007), et al.
5. At Zinopix (2002-04) and NCSoft (2004-06).

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