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WATCH: Marian Lee Joins IPR's Steinway Café

IPR's Steinway Café returns with a performance by pianist Marian Lee.

IPR Classical launched our Steinway Café series after we restored our 1918 Steinway B piano in 2019. In the pre-pandemic world, we hosted in-studio performances. Due to COVID-19, we’ve reinvented the series to make it available for live-streaming on Facebook and YouTube.

To start our 2021 season, we're excited to present Marian Lee as our first female Steinway Café soloist. Historically, while women were occasionally noted for their musical abilities, they often took a backseat when it came to appearing as soloists or members in a symphony orchestra. Fortunately, those days are over!

Last month, Dr. Lee starred with the Quad City Symphony on their Masterworks III: Beethoven Symphony No. 3 digital Uscreen Channel concert. She soloed on Bach’s brilliant “Keyboard Concerto No. 5.” We know she will bring a new dimension and vitality to our January show.

Marian Lee is an associate professor of piano at St. Ambrose University in Davenport. She was originally scheduled to perform in August and rescheduled due to the derecho.

Marian Lee hosts concert at noon on Monday, Jan. 11

Lee will perform from St. Ambrose University’s campus starting her concert with a Prelude, the seventh work taken from a set of 10 pieces composed by one of the twentieth century’s major Russian composers and pianists, Prokofiev. Prokofiev’s effervescent Prelude in C is aptly nicknamed “The Harp."

Lee will then turn to the haunting and poignant Andante second movement from the Sonata in e minor by Florence Beatrice Price. Ms. Price was the first noted Black American female composer to gain national recognition when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra gave the 1933 world premiere of her Symphony No. 1 in e minor. During Ms. Price’s career, she composed over 300 works and also witnessed and endured segregation, Jim Crow Laws, racism, and sexism. She graduated from the New England Conservatory with a double major in organ and piano performance. Marian Anderson championed her works, often closing her concerts with Ms. Price’s setting of “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord.”

Lee has selected an evocative and greatly admired nocturne by one of the most legendary composers for the piano, Chopin.

Jeremy Seipmann, author of Chopin: The Reluctant Romantic, calls Chopin’s Nocturne in D-flat, Op. 27, No. 2, “an unsurpassed jewel of craftsmanship in every sense: in its uniquely delicate and seductive sonorities, in the extraordinary, bel canto elaborations of its melody, in its harmonic subtlety and its Classical proportions.”

The legendary romantic Russian composer and virtuoso pianist, Sergei Rachmaninov’s 13 Preludes, Op. 32: No. 12 in g # minor (Allegro) appears next in Lee’s Virtual Steinway Café playlist. The thrilling work was composed by Rachmaninov in 1910 to polish off his goal of composing 24 Preludes that explore all the different major and minor keys.

080620-MarianLee
Tom McCall
Marian Lee of St. Ambrose University will give a virtual concert on Tuesday, August 11 live at iowapublicradio.org.

Lee turns next to Debussy’s 1903 L’isle joyeuse or The Joyful Island. Historians believe that Watteau’s painting “L’Embarquement de Cythère” was the inspiration for Debussy’s brilliant work. Composed in 1903, Debussy incorporates whole tone, lydian mode, and diatonic scales to create a vivid and texturally rich soundscape of fanfares, drums, sparkling waves, glissandos, and trills, all accompanied by bold rhythms and dynamics.

To end the set, Lee will perform the heartfelt “All in Due Time” by William Campbell and close with a presentation of the inspirational and moving “Together We Rise” by William Campbell.

Composer, performer, and teacher Campbell is currently the professor of music theory and composition at St. Ambrose. As a film composer, Campbell is well known for his socially conscious film scores and also his zombie film scores. Campbell had his “50 Feet from Syria” placed on an Academy Award shortlist, and “Lifeboat” was nominated for an Academy Award and a "News and Documentary" Emmy. Dr. Campbell also composes songs, incidental theatre music, chorus, large ensemble, chamber, and mixed ensembles along with solo guitar and piano works.

About Marian Lee


Dr. Lee has performed at New York City’s Carnegie and Steinway Halls, at the Kennedy and Lincoln Centers, given an exclusive recital at the Hermitage Theatre in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia and was featured on a nationally live televised broadcast in Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow, Russia.