Classical saxophonist Wonki Lee, feeling equally at home in traditional and contemporary repertoire, has distinguished himself as a winner of the Vandoren Emerging Artist Competition in United States as well as becoming the first Korean saxophonist selected to be one of the 18 semi-finalists in the Adolphe Sax International Competition in Belgium. Mr. Lee’s musical exploration has encompassed his fascinations with history of saxophone repertoire and interpreting original works for saxophone with new insights and understandings.
As a soloist, Mr. Lee has given recitals and solo performances in United States and Asia. His recent performances include recitals at La Plantation in Beijing, Yamaha Artist Hall in Seoul, and the Lincoln Center in New York. In collaboration with Yamaha Japan, Mr. Lee has given recitals that spotlights Yamaha custom saxophones and explores its potential through performing significant works for saxophone as he exclusively plays the Yamaha Custom 875 EX saxophones.
“Incomparable technical prowess, wide range of
colorful palette, and flawless tonal control”
-Reiko Füting, contemporary composer
After making his Carnegie Weill Recital Hall debut premiering a new composition for soprano saxophone and piano, Mr. Lee became an advocate of contemporary music written by composers of his generation. Since then, he has premiered numerous new works ranging from solo to orchestral and contributed to the addition of three new saxophone concertos. He premiered piano-redacted version of saxophone concerto Sull’ala by Susan Botti. Saxophone concertos by Thiago Tiberio and Avner Finberg are written for him. In 2019, Mr. Lee will be premiering a new saxophone works by Reiko Fueting, Paolo Marchettini, and James Ra.
As well as solo performances, Mr. Lee is an avid orchestral saxophonist. He has collaborated numerous conductors such as Leonard Slatkin, Robert Spano, and Philippe Entremont. He has appeared with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra lead by Eiji Oue as they launched their 100th Anniversary World Tour at Alice Tully Hall, Tokyo Wind Symphony Orchestra. He has also appeared in orchestras such as New World Symphony Orchestra, and Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Lee is a principal saxophonist of New York Wind Orchestra. He is also the soprano saxophonist of the Convectus Saxophone Quartet.
As an educator, Mr. Lee has given masterclasses and lectures in China, Korea, Japan, and the US. He also enjoys community engagements and outreach programs where he shares performances with children and seniors with limited access to public performance venues. Recent engagements include performances at Christian Health Care Center in Wyckoff and Community Development Project in Tarrytown.
Born to Korean parents living in Tokyo, Mr. Lee began to study the saxophone at age thirteen and soon moved to New York City where he received his training with Dr. Paul Cohen. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) degree from Manhattan School of Music.
Mr. Lee is a Si-Yo Artist™.