Dongryul Lee, D.M.A.
Dr. Dongryul Lee (he/him) is an Assistant Professor of Music at Loyola University Chicago where he serves as the coordinator of Theory and Composition program. He earned his MM and DMA degrees in composition-theory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Lee was the 2020-21 CCCC Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Chicago’s Center for Contemporary Composition. He previously taught at North Central College, Harper College, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Lee began writing music with the computer when he was 13. After probing all kinds of music for 10 years while leading rock bands, analyzing Bach and Final Fantasy, and writing atonal music without formal knowledge of serialism, Lee finally came to the US in 2008 to study at the Eastman School (BM in composition) as a 29 year old freshman. To prepare for this late embarkation, he studied music and practiced piano privately for five years while working as a software engineer, after earning a degree in computer science and industrial system engineering (BS) from Yonsei University.
He was awarded the Kate Neal Kinley Memorial Fellowship, which supported his study with Jukka Tiensuu (2020); the third prize in the first Bartók World Competition (Hungary, 2018); the Special Prize Piero Pezzé in the Composition Competition Città di Udine (Italy, 2018); Second Prize in the 3rd GMCL Competition (Portugal, 2017); and Second Prize in 2017 Busan Maru International Music Festival Competition (South Korea). The performance of his Unending Rose by the Kairos quartett (Berlin, 2020) was supported by the Theodore Presser Foundation, Arts Council Korea, and Kultur Büro Elisabeth Berlin. His compositions have been performed by ensembles such as the Avanti!, Grossman, Kairos, Contemporanea, Jupiter, MIVOS, Callithumpian Consort, Axiom Brass, S.E.M., Conference Ensemble, Paramirabo, and Illinois Modern Ensemble among others. His A finite island was premiered at the Fromm Players Concerts at Harvard by Miranda Cuckson in April 2021 and his TIMESTORY was premiered by Grossman Ensemble in December 2021.
He studied composition with Jukka Tiensuu, Reynold Tharp, Heinrich Taube, Stephen Andrew Taylor, Erin Gee, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, David Liptak, and Tae-hoon Kim, and conducting with Brad Lubman and Mark Davis Scatterday, and piano with Tony Caramia, Ji Yun Lee, and Yoon Jeong Kim. He also studied rock vocal techniques in 1999 with Myungki Kim, a renowned Korean underground heavy-metal vocalist.
Described as “alluring, sparkling, thoughtful, and carefully crafted” (Augusta Read Thomas, Director of The Chicago Center for Contemporary Composition), Seoul-born Chicago based composer Dongryul Lee (이동렬, Korean pronunciation: [iː doŋ ɾjəɾ]) seeks to write music that is deeply oriented around the acoustical nature of sounds and the playfulness of classical performance practice. Sometimes with the joy of rendering ludic permutations or interstellar sonic fables, he tries to touch the human spirit in epistemic ways. The dual identities of his backgrounds, a Korean immigrant living in the States, a born Catholic and learned Buddhist thinker, and a composer with a computer science degree, greatly influence his musical language. He finds inspirations in spiritual, literary, and scientific elements, encompassing a diverse range of topics from Borgesian poetics and Jungian Philosophy to Number Theory, Deep Learning, and Engineering Campanology, oftentimes employing yearlong in-depth interdisciplinary research.
I strongly believe students learn best when they are interested. Therefore, drawing a connection between their experiences and environment and their learning is essential in motivating them to learn. To achieve this, I prioritize exploring students’ diverse cultural backgrounds, experiences, and personal interests. I encourage them to develop skills and crafts that suit their preferences as they cultivate their own voices and identities. I demonstrate openness with my students, value listening to them and their music, and work to solve problems together. I am patient and willing to explain again or try different methods or suggest diverse resources until they understand, learn, unlearn, practice, or improve. My belief is that teaching is the reciprocal process of working together rather than a one sided transfer of knowledge.
As a latecomer to the music field and someone who personally experienced systemic oppression, I have observed social stratification through countless explicit and implicit biases and obstacles that limit students’ access to early music education resources. While we agree that every student should have equity in opportunity, we also know that not everyone is on equal footing. I understand the challenges of competing with talented young musicians and the importance of developing inclusive and accessible teaching methods. My experiences as an out-group learner and my background in Computer Science have uniquely shaped my approach to music education, enabling me to create a supportive and nurturing environment for students at all levels. I understand the barriers that learners may face, and I am committed to dismantling these barriers through innovative teaching and other supportive strategies. To cater to different learning styles and skill levels, I have formulated broadly accessible methods that have proven to be effective across the spectrum of students.
My experience in popular and game music before coming to the US have shaped my strong commitment to the field of education. Now, it is very common to meet students who are motivated by their love of popular music to study it academically, and I can empathize with their perspectives, challenges, problems, and expressions–many of which are similar to those I encountered in my undergraduate years.
As a lifelong learner myself, I inspire my students to embrace continuous growth and development in their musical journeys. I believe that true music teachers do not merely transfer information; they facilitate opportunities for students to explore and persevere through music, helping them discover their own truths and identities.
B.M. Eastman School of Music
B.S. Yonsei University
M.M. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
D.M.A. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
CCCC Postdoctoral Researcher, The University of Chicago (2020-21)
MUSC 144: Music Theory I
MUSC 344: Music Teory III