Singaporean bass-baritone John Lee was a semi-finalist at the International Handel Singing Competition 2020 and made his Wigmore Hall debut as Marte in Handel’s Parnasso in festa for the London Handel Festival later that year. He was a Voces8 Scholar, St Martin’s Voices Fellow, Brighton Early Music Festival (BREMF) Young Artist, Iford Arts New Generation Artist, and member of Genesis Sixteen. John received his Master of Music degree with Distinction from the Royal College of Music (RCM), London, where he was the Sheila Saam Memorial Scholar. He owes much to his singing teachers Alison Wells, Justin Lavender and Toh Ban Sheng.
“a natural singer with a flexible voice”Seen and Heard International
“[one of] the performances of the night … a little larger than life, [and] bursting with suppressed energy”Daily Info Oxford
A lover of early music, John studied lute song with master lutenist Jakob Lindberg and has performed as a soloist in Handel Apollo e Dafne (BREMF), Bach B Minor Mass / Handel Messiah (Armonico Consort), Bach St John Passion (Somerville College Choir, Oxford), Ich habe genug / Peasant and Coffee cantatas (New Chamber Opera, Oxford), and numerous Bach cantatas (with the RCM Baroque Orchestra, City Music Society, and Oxford Bach Soloists).
“Lee was an excellent Mars, revealing an extremely smooth bass”musicOMH
John’s operatic roles include Melisso Alcina (The Opera People / Red Dot Baroque), Pluto Il ballo delle ingrate (BREMF), Superintendent Budd Albert Herring (St Peter’s College Opera, Oxford), Martin Candide (Oxford Playhouse), Aide The Tsar Wants His Photograph Taken (UCL Culture, Bloomsbury Theatre), and Sebastian in Toby Young’s Witch! (Faculty of Music, Oxford University). Ensemble work includes Offenbach’s Robinson Crusoe (RCM Opera Studio) and Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore (Iford Arts). He has worked with directors Tom Guthrie, Bill Bankes-Jones, Tan Shou Chen and James Hurley.
At the RCM, John worked regularly with his coaches Andrew Robinson and John Blakely, as well as with guest coaches Iain Burnside and Roderick Williams. In his final year, with the assistance of English song specialist Stephen Varcoe and the RCM library, John undertook a project to research, transcribe and perform the unpublished songs of Samuel Liddle, for which he was highly commended. He has sung in masterclasses with Roderick Williams, Rachel Nicholls, Julian Perkins, and Katie Mitchell.
“John Lee provided a lithe and tonally crisp performance”Classical Source
Before moving to London, John received a first class degree in Music from St Catherine’s College, Oxford. Schola Cantorum of Oxford was central to his experience there; he was Chairman in his second year and Conducting Scholar in his third. John also sung with other leading Oxford ensembles including the choirs of Christ Church Cathedral, New College, Queen’s College, and Somerville College. Aside from singing, John was active as a conductor and composer; he trained as a choral conductor as part of the Voces Academy Musical Leadership Programme, and his piece Nunc Dimittis received its world premiere by the award-winning Raffles Singers (Singapore). It has since been performed at the 11th World Symposium on Choral Music in Barcelona, Spain. More recently, John joined The Sixteen and Genesis Sixteen in the world premiere of MacMillan’s Symphony No. 5 ‘Le Grand Inconnu’ at Usher Hall (Edinburgh) and the Barbican.
A pianist from the age of four, John performed in four ABRSM Top Scorers’ Concerts (Singapore) for his Grade 5, 7, and 8 piano examinations, and his Grade 6 cello examination, after which he gained his ATCL and LTCL piano diplomas with distinction. His formative musical experiences include performing at Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House as Principal Cellist of the Raffles Institution String Ensemble, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue at the Esplanade Concert Hall, and piano competitions in Tokyo, Bangkok, and Singapore.
John is currently based in Singapore together with his wife, Paloma.
To learn about John’s story and faith click here.