Biography

John Lee Ed4.jpg

“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

Singaporean bass-baritone John Lee spent two years in the military before moving to the United Kingdom to study music. He was an Iford Arts New Generation Artist, Voces8 Scholar, St Martin’s Voices Fellow, Brighton Early Music Festival (BREMF) Young Artist, and member of Genesis Sixteen. This year, John was a semi-finalist at the International Handel Singing Competition and made his Wigmore Hall debut as Marte in Handel’s Parnasso in festa for the London Handel Festival. John studied at the Royal College of Music (RCM), London, with Alison Wells where he was the Sheila Saam Memorial Scholar.

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 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, 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song specialist Stephen Varcoe and the RCM library, John undertook a project to research, transcribe and perform the unpublished songs of Samuel Liddle, for which he was highly commended.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, on a Teaching Scholarship from Singapore’s Ministry of Education. 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 choirs 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. He was a prizewinner and finalist in piano competitions in Tokyo, Bangkok, and Singapore, and has performed in Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House as Principal Cellist of the Raffles Institution String Ensemble.

John is currently based in Singapore together with his wife, Paloma.

To learn about John’s story and faith click here.