Joanna Lee

Finalist in 2012 for Opera Composition

Voice and theatricality are at the heart of Lee’s work. Her inspiration often starts with a text and she is particularly drawn to writing that is phonetically rich, experimental and explorative, such as the poetic, colourful and playful works of EE Cummings and Don Marquis.
“My work involves exploring the plethora of vocal techniques that are available, from whispered, spoken and sprechsgesang tones to giggling, gasping and yodeling to beatbox and rapping, linguistic accents and vocal characterizations. My use of a varied vocal palette is in response to theatricality: how I apply the voice and instrumental ensemble largely depends on dramatic considerations, to convey and explore the characters, story, sentiments and dramatic landscape.”
Lee’s unique approach is already meeting with considerable success. “The imaginative and rigorous writing of Joanna Lee, whose Chansons Innocentes, assured and confident in the composition, would have flattered any composer, let alone a 26-year-old student…one of the most successful [commissions] I have ever heard in 40 years of reviewing…Lee showed herself gifted with a facility not only for composing for the voice…but also for the orchestra.” Birmingham Post
“This year’s major discovery is young composer Joanna Lee, winner of the Stephen Olivier Award and hotly tipped…for great things.” Tete a Tete Opera Festival
Lee’s goals now are to complete her PhD in vocal composition, music, theatre and opera and to go on to create larger operatic pieces. “The comic potential of music is an element I seek to pursue, along with music of a vibrant, imaginative and playful nature.”