Considered a “new breed of instrumental specialist,” (New Music Buff) Dr. Catherine Lee offers “immaculate, masterful oboe playing” (The Double Reed) in combination with inspired and discerning musicality across an impressive range of genres and styles. Her “deep understanding of the expressive possibilities of her instruments in both traditional and extended techniques” (New Music Buff) leads to the flow of “fresh, unencumbered musical ideas” (The Double Reed) that characterizes her dynamic performance. Naturally inquisitive and eager to push the boundaries of oboe performance technique, Lee actively commissions evocative new music that showcases her “ravishing, declamatory tone and absolute control over her instrument.” (Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review)
An expert performer of oboe, English horn, and oboe d’amore, Lee has extensive experience as a solo, chamber, and orchestral musician in classical, contemporary, and free improvisation settings. She is a founding member of the Lee + Hannafin Duo, with percussioninst Matt Hannafin, and of Re:Soundings, with Dana Reason and John C. Savage, and has performed in ensembles with noted improvisers such as Han Bennick, Vinny Golia, John Gruntfest, Gino Robair, and Tatsuya Nakatani. Her work with renowned 2020 NEA Jazz Master Roscoe Mitchell is especially noteworthy. Having performed his 1970’s work Nonaah in a more lyrical and recent arrangement with Re:Soundings Trio at the Park Avenue Armory in 2019, they also recorded the piece for Roscoe Mitchell and Ostravaska Banda: Distant Radio Transmission, an album released by Wide Hive records and deemed “a new but essential contribution to our New Music Modernist cannon.” (Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review) A former member of Orchestre Symphonique de Longueuil, Catherine has also appeared with the Oregon Symphony, Oregon Ballet Theatre Orchestra, Portland Opera Orchestra, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, and the Montreal Chamber Orchestra among others. Lee’s interdisciplinary collaborations include the creation of reeds, a site-specific work composed by Emily Doolittle (Sound Symposium, 2010); work with POV dance (Ten Tiny Dances, 2008); and with Tracy Broyles (Risk/Reward Festival, 2012). In 2015, the Lee + Hannafin Duo released their debut album Five Shapes: Improvisations for Oboe d’amore and Percussion, showcasing their “inventive musical imagination, and… deliver[ing] a surprisingly multifarious experience.” (Oregon ArtsWatch) Lee’s solo cd social sounds, released in 2013 on Teal Creek Music and featuring works by Canadian composers received wide acclaim, having been deemed “a CD as compelling as it is eminently listenable.” (The WholeNote)
Lee’s research in how virtuoso performers in the late eighteenth century used solo concerti to demonstrate skill and build resonance with audiences, has lead to a curiosity with regard to the role of improvisation in both the development of creativity and voice of a performer, and in the relationship between performers, audience and space. She has presented her research at ISSTA: Sonic Practice Now (2020), Agile Futures: Approaching Improvisation (Vancouver, BC, 2019), Ecomusics & Ecomusicologies 2014: Dialogues (Asheville, NC, 2014), The Embodiment of Authority – Perspectives on Performances (Helsinki, Finland, 2010), The Performer’s Voice (Singapore, 2009), Guelph Jazz Festival Colloquium (Guelph, 2010, 2012), Performance in the Studio (2013) and College Music Society (Seattle, WA, 2010, 2013). Yale University Press, Peter Lang, Music Educators Journal, the IAWM Journal, the IDRS Journal Double Reed and the ADRS Journal Reeding Matter have all published her research.
A dedicated teacher and mentor, Lee is on faculty at Willamette University, Western Oregon University and George Fox University. A trained Andover Educator, Lee is licensed to teach “What Every Musician needs to know about the Body” and leads a course in Coordinate Movement at Willamette University (Salem, OR). She has presented sessions on Body Mapping at the Washington State University (Pullman, WA), Portland State University and at the International Conference of the Andover Educators (Montclair, NJ, 2011 & Portland, OR, 2015).
Lee holds a Doctor of Music in Oboe Performance and a Bachelor of Music from McGill University (Montreal, Quebec), a Master of Music and a Performer Diploma from Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana), and certification from the Deep Listening Institute (New York). Her principal influences include Theodore Baskin, Normand Forget, Bruce Haynes and Eleanor V. Stubley.