The Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra is delighted to announce the appointment of Earl Lee as our next Music Director, ushering in a new era of visionary leadership in the arts, culture and community of Southeastern Michigan.
The product of a three-year international search that evaluated hundreds of candidates, Lee’s appointment comes as the orchestra prepares to launch its new season in September, presenting unforgettable symphonic experiences and internationally acclaimed soloists in Ann Arbor’s finest venues. As the orchestra’s fourteenth director since its founding in 1928, Lee takes the helm of one of the Midwest’s finest regional ensembles as we prepare to celebrate our 100th anniversary.
Winner of the 2022 Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award, Earl Lee is a renowned Korean-Canadian conductor who has captivated audiences worldwide. Earl is in his second season as Music Director of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra and in his third season as Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which he has led in subscription concerts both at Symphony Hall and Tanglewood.
In addition to a full season of concerts with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra and subscription concerts with the Boston Symphony in Boston and at Tanglewood, Earl’s 23/24 season includes guest conducting engagements with the Vancouver Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic, Winnipeg Symphony, Colorado Springs Philharmonic, The Florida Orchestra, and the Royal Conservatory Orchestra Toronto. Previous seasons have seen subscription debuts with the San Francisco Symphony, Seoul Philharmonic, Hawaii Symphony, and Edmonton Symphony; leading the Lunar New Year galas of both the New York Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony; and concerts with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra and with Sejong Soloists in both New York and Seoul.
Earl previously held positions as Associate Conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony and as the Resident Conductor of the Toronto Symphony. In 2022, he appeared with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam as a participant in the Ammodo masterclasses led by Fabio Luisi.
Earl’s 23/24 programs with the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra include contemporary works by John Adams, Brian Raphael Nabors, Joan Towers, Gala Flagello, Jessie Montgomery, and Zhou Tian as well as the first installment of a multi-year Beethoven cycle with Symphonies Nos. 2, 5 and 9. He leads the orchestra in its Detroit Orchestra Hall debut in January 2024 in a concert during the Sphinx Organizations’s annual SphinxConnect convention.
In all of his professional activities, Earl seeks ways to connect with fellow musicians and audiences on a personal level. He has taken great pleasure in mentoring young musicians as former Artistic Director and Conductor of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, and as Music Director of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra and is a regular guest conductor with the orchestras of North America’s top music schools such as Manhattan School of Music, The Juilliard School, and the New England, San Francisco, and Royal Conservatories.
As a cellist, Earl has performed at festivals such as the Marlboro Music Festival, Music from Angel Fire, Caramoor Rising Stars, and Ravinia’s Steans Institute and has toured as a member of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO), with Musicians from Marlboro, and with Gary Burton & Chick Corea as a guest member of the Harlem String Quartet.
Earl was the recipient of the 50th Anniversary Heinz Unger Award from the Ontario Arts Council in 2018, of a Solti Career Assistance Award in 2021 and has been awarded a Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Scholarship by Kurt Masur and the Ansbacher Fellowship by the American Austrian Foundation and members of the Vienna Philharmonic. He studied cello at the Curtis Institute of Music and The Juilliard School and conducting at Manhattan School of Music and the New England Conservatory. He lives in New York City with his wife and their daughter.