The Music of Benjamin Lees

Volume II Number 1Winter 2004

Celebrating Benjamin Lees

We are very pleased to announce the celebration of the 80th birthday year of one of America's greatest composers — Benjamin Lees. This edition of Perspective will feature performances and news that celebrates the life and music of this important musical voice. First of all, a major interview with Mr. Lees is available for reading online at England's Music & Vision Daily web magazine.

Secondly, this wonderful news -

Benjamin Lees' Symphony No. 5, "Kalmar Nyckel" Nominated for 2003 Grammy Award in Best Contemporary Composition Category

Benjamin Lees' Symphony No. 5, "Kalmar Nyckel" has been nominated for a 2003 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Composition by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. You can find more information about the nominations at

This performance, recorded by Germany's Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, conducted by the composers longtime musical interpreter and close associate, Stephen Gunzenhauser, has been released as part of Albany Records 2-CD set Troy 564-565, which also features Mr. Lees' Symphony No. 2 and Symphony No. 3, both also performed by the Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz conducted by Stephen Gunzenhauser and the composers Etudes for Piano and Orchestra, with pianist James Dick and the Texas Festival Orchestra, conducted by Robert Spano. Special grants from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music and the Swedish Information Service helped make this recording possible. You can find more about the recording at the Albany Records site -

This set joins the acclaimed Naxos recording of Lees' Symphony No. 4 "Memorial Candles", performed by mezzo Kimball Wheeler, violinist James Buswell and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Theodore Kuchar conducting (Naxos 8.559002) to form the first integral recordings of the composer's masterful symphonies. The Albany set has been cited by Fanfare Magazine and Sequenza 21 webmagazine for their Best of 2003 lists.

The symphonies and the etudes are published by Boosey & Hawkes and are available for performance by American orchestras. You can obtain a perusal score of these superb works from B & H at 212-358-5300.

It is especially appropriate that Stephen Gunzenhauser has recorded these three works, as he has been a strong advocate of Mr. Lees' symphonies, and it was the conductor's Delaware Symphony that commissioned Symphony No. 5 to honor the founding of the city of Wilmington by Swedish immigrants from the ship Kalmar Nyckel.

The next important item -

National Consortium of Chamber Ensembles Commissions New Work From Benjamin Lees

A national consortium of chamber ensembles, including Pacific Serenades of Los Angeles, The American Chamber Ensemble of New York, The Mallarme Chamber Players of Durham, North Carolina and the Contemporary Chamber Players of Salt Lake City, have commissioned a new chamber work from Benjamin Lees.

Titled Tapestry for flute, Bflat clarinet, cello and piano, Pacific Serenades will present the World Premiere performances this coming April 24th in Los Angeles, with subsequent performances by the other three groups across the country during the 2004-2005 season.

One more piece of great news -

Young People's Chorus of New York Commissions New Work As Well

The renowned Young People's Chorus of New York has also commissioned a new work from Benjamin Lees.

Titled The Nervous Family, the work will be given its World Premiere April 25th, 2004 at the Ethical Culture Society on Central Park West by the YPCNY, under the direction of their founder and Music Director Francisco J. Núñez.

In what promises to be an interesting bit of travel, the composer will attend the April 25 Tapestry premiere in Los Angeles and then fly overnight to New York to be at The Nervous Family performance.

On the Web
For more information about Benjamin Lees, visit You can also read a recent (and wonderful) Sequenza21 Electronic Dialogues interview with the composer. There are also wonderful reviews of his Concerto for French Horn & Orch. CD at MusicWeb and at JamesArts.

On the Phone
For any other information about the music of Benjamin Lees, please contact Jeffrey James Arts Consulting at 516-586-3433 or

Jeffrey James Arts Consulting
Jeffrey James,   President
45 Grant Ave.
Farmingdale, NY 11735
Tel & Fax: 516-586-3433   E-mail:

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