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Andrew McKenna Lee plays, composes, records as he likes - Times Union 2/6/17, 6:22 PM


Andrew McKenna Lee plays, composes, records as he likes

Joseph Dalton, Classical Notes Published 4:50 pm, Thursday, February 2, 2017

With his guitars in hand, Andrew McKenna Lee will be featured as both performer and
composer at the next two concerts of the Saint Rose Camerata, the ensemble of faculty
members from the college that performs in the Massry Center. On Saturday, Lee performs his own
composition "Five Refractions from a Prelude by Bach" on acoustic guitar. And on Saturday, March
25, he turns to the electric guitar for "Unraveling," a duet with percussionist Jude Traxler.

The switch from acoustic guitar to electric guitar speaks to Lee's diversity and tastes. As further
evidence, there's the Knells, which is the name of Lee's eight-piece ensemble, what he calls his
"band." He describes the music as a mix of the Italian Renaissance composer Palestrina with the
rock band Yes.

More Information "That kind of reconnects with my youth. Like a lot

of kids, I grew up with an electric guitar, immersed
If you go in the worlds of progressive rock and classic
rock," says Lee. "As a teenager in a rural area, I'd
Andrew McKenna Lee
walk around listening to music on a cassette
What: Guitarist will perform with the Walkman. I wondered, how do I create these types
Saint Rose Camerata of experiences?"

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 7:30

As with most any pursuit, artistic or otherwise,
p.m. Saturday, March 25
answers arrive through plenty of study and
Where: Massry Center for the Arts, practice. After establishing some fluency with the
College of St. Rose, 1002 Madison electric guitar and lots of listening to steel string
Ave., Albany
players like Michael Hedges, Leo Kottke and

Admission: Free Adrian Legg, a breakthrough came at age 16.

That's when Lee first attended the North Carolina
School of the Arts, where he was introduced to
classical guitar.
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Andrew McKenna Lee plays, composes, records as he likes - Times Union 2/6/17, 6:22 PM

"My mom prompted me to do it, and that pushed me over toward the classical side of things," says
Lee, 42. Composition studies followed at Carnegie Mellon University, the Manhattan School of Music
and finally at Princeton, where Lee earned his Ph.D.

Concurrent with his advancement as a composer and guitarist, Lee has worked extensively in
recording production. In just the last few years, he's had a hand in the recording, editing or mixing of
more than a dozen discs, many released on New Amsterdam Records, a label that's home to some of
today's most adventurous young artists.

"To be a mix engineer, you don't need a big swanky studio, just some good gear," explains Lee. "I
have that setup at my apartment in Brooklyn and also here in Albany. Saint Rose also has beautiful
recording studios that I love to work at."

The college's music industry program has drawn on Lee's full range of talents during his three years
on the faculty. He gives private instruction in both guitar and songwriting and also teaches classes
in audio production, music technology and the history of rock.

"I typically teach Monday through Thursday and Friday is used for administrative tasks," says Lee. "I
try to cram as much as writing in as I can, fitting it into evenings and weekends, holidays and

Lee says that he and his fianc, the composer and vocalist Molly Thompson, appreciate the calmer
and quieter life that the Capital Region provides. But they won't be giving up their Brooklyn
apartment anytime soon. Spending time in the big city keeps them connected to the fast-moving
contemporary music scene. And Lee does seem very much a part of things. The list of venues where
he's appeared in recent seasons reads like a list of hot spots and includes National Saw Dust and
Roulette in Brooklyn and Merkin Concert Hall and Carnegie's Zankel Hall in Manhattan.

Meanwhile, Lee is integrating well into the artistic life of the Capital Region. Just last week,
choreographer Ellen Sinopoli's company performed to his music in a program at the Massry. And in
early June, Lee will be part of the ASO's American Music Festival. Conductor David Alan Miller

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Andrew McKenna Lee plays, composes, records as he likes - Times Union 2/6/17, 6:22 PM

confirms that Lee has been commissioned to write a new work for the Dogs of Desire. That's a
natural, since the Dogs are all about the intersection of classical and pop, a terrain that Lee knows
well. Lee will also give a solo program as part of the festival at EMPAC.

With a full teaching load, a second disc of his band expected later this year and a slate of events
both upstate and downstate, Lee seems to have found the answer to his teenage musing about how
to create musical experiences.

Joseph Dalton is a freelance writer based in Troy.

2017 Hearst Communications, Inc.

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