Mike Cheng-Yu Lee
Awarded Second Prize and Audience Prize at the 2011 Westfield International Fortepiano Competition by a jury that included Robert Levin and the late Christopher Hogwood, New Zealand (forte)pianist Mike Cheng-Yu Lee’s performances have been described as “portraying integrity, purity, complexity and truth… with balance and control that are breathtaking.” Peter Jacobi of the Bloomington Herald Times writes: "As a keyboard performer, Lee really is a major talent, no doubt about it…[his] Mozart was absolutely radiant, a lesson in refinement mixed with deep devotion."
An advocate of pianos that span the eighteenth century to the present, Mike has appeared with the New World Symphony at the invitation of Michael Tilson Thomas and has collaborated with musicians including Joseph Lin (Juilliard String Quartet), the Formosa Quartet, and Cynthia Roberts among others that integrate modern and period instruments.
Recent performances and guest teachings have taken him to Oberlin Conservatory, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, 23Arts Festival (NY), Mayfest Chamber Music Festival (NY), the Bloomington Early Music Festival (IN) and others. Current projects include the complete cycle of Mozart’s piano sonatas and “Beethoven Perspectives,” a series of lecture-recitals that explore connections between works by Beethoven and others.
In 2015-17 Mike was Visiting Assistant Professor/Post-Doctoral Scholar at the Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University-Bloomington and has served as Lecturer of music theory at Yale University. As a published music theorist he has presented on issues of musical form, performance practice, and musical embodiment at a number of conferences, including the Society of Music Theory and the European Music Analysis Conference.
In July 2017 Mike joins the Australian National University, School of Music as Lecturer of Performance and Director of the ANU Keyboard Institute, which houses the southern hemisphere’s largest collection of historical pianos. Mike Cheng-Yu Lee studied at the Yale School of Music and holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Cornell University. His teachers have included Malcolm Bilson, Boris Berman, and the renowned Haydn scholar James Webster.
The recital features three piano sonatas by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven performed on a copy of Mozart's personal fortepiano by Anton Walter. All three composers shared intimate relationships with Walter's pianos, who was considered by many to be the finest builder in Vienna towards the end of the 18th century: Haydn had one at his disposal at the Esterházy court where he worked for the greater part of his career, Mozart bought one shortly after he moved to Vienna on which he performed his mature piano concertos, and Beethoven at one point requested Walter to build him such an instrument. The recital seeks to uncover further expressive potentials of this familiar repertoire through the lens of late 18th century aesthetics of sound, and in the case of Beethoven's "Moonlight" sonata, a lost romantic sensibility.