James Lee III: Truly Unique and Remarkable

“James Lee III’s voice is truly unique and unmistakably his.”

And so, Eric Jacobsen – the Orlando Philharmonic’s Music Director – offers some insight into the ensemble’s upcoming February 24, 2024 Florida premiere of Lee’s piano concerto Shades of Unbroken Dreams. The performance showcases soloist Alexandra Dariescu, and Mei-Ann Chen guest-conducts. Shades of Unbroken Dreams was co-commissioned by the Detroit Symphony, BBC Radio 3 (for the BBC Philharmonic) and the Orlando Philharmonic. The 35-minute long work is inspired by the 60th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream Speech.” The Detroit Symphony premiered the work in November 2023, and its UK premiere quickly followed after the first performance.

Jacobsen continues. “Getting to program James Lee III’s music over the past five to six years has led to such a rich relationship between him, the Orlando Philharmonic, and our audiences. We’ve seen James do overtures, shorter works, and a piano concerto, and now we are so excited to have him on the mainstage for this larger orchestral work. It is so special when composers find their own voice and are able to articulate their own music coming directly from their hearts and minds, and James is a pure example of that. We are so fortunate to have this relationship with him and can’t wait to premiere this new concerto.” The concert repeats on February 25th.

James Lee adds, “It’s quite an honor to be able to come back to Orlando to hear my piano concerto performed by the Orlando Philharmonic. It’s been gratifying to be able to develop a continued relationship with this orchestra. It’s also nice to recognize that the Orlando audience is very receptive to my music, and I’m sure they will enjoy Alexandra Dariescu’s virtuosic and charming performance.”

Coming up: next month, from March 22 – 24, the Pittsburgh Symphony presents three performances of Lee’s popular work Sukkot Through Orion’s Nebula, conducted by Juanjo Mena at Heinze Hall.