Hope Lee received formal music training at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, the McGill University in Montréal and at the Staatlich Hochschule für Musik Freiburg, Germany as a recipient of a DAAD scholarship and a Canada Council Grant. Her main teachers in composition are Bengt Hambraeus, Brian Cherney and Klaus Huber. During this period, she also attended the Darmstadt Ferienkurse für Neue Musik and the Durham 1979 Oriental Music Festival in England. Both events were important in shaping her musical development. Between 1987-90, she studied Chinese traditional music and poetry, as well as computer music in Berkeley, California. Hope Lee has been invited to the first International Woman Composers Conference in Berlin, to the Künsterlerhaus Boswil in Switzerland, Die Hoege in Germany as artist-in-residence, visiting composer at the Dresdner Musikfestspiele, Fu Jen University in Taipei, Queen’s University and University of Calgary and engaged as visiting professor at the Wuhan Conservatory of Music in China.
Hope Lee’s work has been presented at international music festivals such as Music Today in Tokyo, World Music Days of the ISCM, Aspekte Salzburg Festival, Hong Kong Festival, International Computer Music Conference, the Scotia Festival of Music, Trieste Contemporanea International Tribune of Composers in Belgrade, CanTai Festival in Taipei, Dresdner Musikfestspiele in Germany. Her works have won many awards, including first prize for Nabripamo (piano, marimba, 1982) in the Scotia Festival of Music Boulez Year Composers’ Competition in 1991. Other principal works of Lee are Ballade of Endless Woe (vocal quartet, percussion ensemble, 1978-79), Onomatopoeia (chamber orchestra with children’s choir, l979-81), Melboac (harpsichord, 1983), one thousand curves ten thousand colours (1997), a multimedia presentation integrating live acoustic and electroacoustic music with computer-generated images, lights and dance, with the theme of artist’s role in the society, and Voices in Time cycle (1989-2011).
Since 1989, Lee has worked on Voices In Time, a cycle of 11 pieces inspired by particular periods in Chinese history which reflects our own existence. The first nine pieces, completed by 2005 and taking in periods between 3000 BC and 1911 AD, are In the Beginning Was the End; Hsieh Lu Hsing; entends, entends le passé qui marche …; Tangram;Voices in Time; Fei Yang; arrow of being, arrow of becoming; Parting at Yang Kuan; and Four Winds from Heaven. The concluding piece, and the end is the beginning, representing the future, was composed 2008-9; the tenth, Secret of the Seven Stars, representing the present, was premiered in 2011. All pieces incorporate Chinese poetry or guqin music from the period represented, and, in terms of materials, techniques, and form, seek to balance continuity and change, the cycle as a whole revealing many layers of musical and philosophical thought.
Lee’s interdisciplinary interests and her view of creativity (“an endless adventure of exploration, research, and experimentation”) are reflected in her fondness for multimedia projects. She has undertaken several such projects, including “Lumina,” a multimedia celebration of light and sound (inspired by the Gothic cathedral) held May 1988 in Toronto; “one thousand curves ten thousand colours”, a live multimedia concert bringing together acoustic and interactive electroacoustic music with projected computer-generated images.
Lee writes complex music that creates organic forms, and is “forcefully expressive” and “mesmerizing”. She exploits conventional instruments imaginatively and in unusual combination, creating colourful and evocative sonorities. Her ethnic and scientific background and her literary, philosophical and other interdisciplinary interests have greatly enriched her work. Aptly described by Michael Schulman as a “cross-cultural explorer,” she is always exploring new sounds and structures, and striving for constant growth, both within individual works and in her output as a whole.
Lee’s works are published by Furore-Verlag in Kassel, Germany.