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Professor Shinuh Lee

Professor Shinuh Lee

Shinuh Lee’s career as a composer started when her trio ’Space’ was selected at the ISCM World Music Days 1991 in Zurich. Lee studied composition with Sukhi Kang at Seoul National University and later with Michael Finnissy at the Royal Academy of Music in London. ’Analogy’ for Oboe and Ensemble written in her first year at the R.A.M. won the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize for Composers 1992, and her other works were also selected in Musical Times Composers’ Competition, Cornelius Cardew Composition Prize and Gaudeamus International Composers’ Competition consecutively and became known to Britain and Europe. In 1997, her orchestral piece ’Psalm 20’, based on researches on ancient Hebrew music and the book Psalms, was selected in Leonard Bernstein International Jerusalem Composing Competition and premiered by Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and its revised version was premiered by BBC Philharmonic Orchestra at the ISCM World Music Days 1998 in Manchester.

Including ’Space’, most of her initial works composed during her stay in Britain reflects acoustic and phenomenal tendency of late 20th century modern music in Europe. However, at her turning point of life ’Psalm 20’, another tendency pointing to a very different direction emerges. Her works composed after she came back to Korea, including ’Invisible Hand’ (2000/ 2002), ’Song of Joy’ (2001/ 2003), ’An Open Door’ (2004) shows that Lee’s musical goal transiting from acoustic, phenomenal tendency of European modern music to humanitarian and religious themes such as human mind and spirit, sin and salvation.

This change of tendency becomes intensified in her later works. In 2006, her ’Choral Fantasy’ manifests her will to explore issues of human sin and salvation through music in a profound way. ’Comfort, comfort my people’, consisting of ten movements, deals with biblical messages of Isaiah and Romans, and these are executed by various experimental techniques and styles including a quote of Bach Chorale juxtaposing tonal, modal and atonal transformations of Lee’s own chorale melody, a total-serial transformation, and poly-chordal and poly-stylistic approaches. This work was tried in a couple of different editions and genre, with its chamber music version performed at Kumho Art hall in 2008. Her ’The Screwtape Letters’ with light and installation was performed at the MoA of SNU in 2009, and with the American performance tour and New York Carnegie Hall performance in 2013 & 2014 accompanied by Pianist Hyojung Huh, the journey of various attempts was completed. This work was published as Piano album with No. 2 ’The Collar’ (2013) and No. 3 ’Alleluia’ (2010/ 2013) in Studio 2021 edition in 2013 and also in Dux label record. Her first Violin Sonata ’Psalm Sonata’ was also released by Dux label record in 2014.

Shinuh Lee’s work is being performed by many soloists, ensembles, and symphony orchestras. Her clarinet concerto commissioned by Seoul International Music Festival was premiered by Michel Lethiec and Korean Chamber Ensemble conducted by Grzegorz Nowak. ’Lament’ for clarinet and string quartet was also premiered by Michel Lethiec and Ensemble Opus at Casals Festival in France. In 2014 – 2016, Lee was also invited for a composition faculty of the Young Artists Summer Program of the Curtis Institute of Music, and she was also commissioned a piece for semifinalists of Seoul International Music Competition in 2011 & 2015.

She obtained Dip. RAM from Royal Academy of Music, and M.Mus and D.Phil from University of London and Sussex University respectively. She was appointed as a Professor in composition at College of Music, Seoul National University and has taught composition and music analysis. She has worked as an artistic director to Studio 2021 since 2003.

Associate Dean, 

College of Music Seoul National University, 

South Korea


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