Combining his careers as an impresario, composer, and performer on his self-designed Electric Flute, Lee McClure has been producing concerts for over twenty years in New York City. He has developed a compositional style featuring highly melodic writing and a complex use of traditional harmony which unite to create music of emotional depth that appeals to all audiences.
Lee's classical oeuvre includes two operas, a symphony, orchestral works, ballets, choral pieces, art songs, piano solos, and numerous chamber works.
His Jazz works include his 2008 CD: A Jazz Christmas Like You've Never Heard. This CD of Lee's highly unusual arrangements of standard Christmas songs was built for contemporary bebop improvisations featuring Chris Hunter (sax) and Margaret Dorn (vocals) and grows out of the traditions of Bird, Coltrane, Aretha, & Ravel. In 2008 it was heard on 40 radio stations around the U.S. including 20 plays in two weeks in Chicago on WDCB.
Lee collaborated with Pulitzer-prize-nominated playwright Ron Whyte for ten years on two operas, choral pieces, theater and art songs. A staged reading of the first opera, Mother And Child, was premiered at the Cathedral St. John The Divine in NYC (see review).
Lee's Symphony No.1 for Jazz Drummer and Symphonic Orchestra is 30 min's long, and employs the form of "stylistic variations" in which the 15 statements of the main theme recur almost intact while the style of each variation changes. The drummer keeps time in the jazz sections, improvises brush and mallet fills in the classical section, and performs an unaccompanied improvised cadenza at the climax of the piece. With 60% of the symphony being Jazz and 40% classical, the styles include: Bossa Nova, Latin, Medium Swing, Neo-classical, Impressionism, Atonal, Slow Minor Blues, Jazz March, Very Fast Bebop, and Gershwinesque sections.
In 1985 Lee founded the Eclectix Chamber Orchestra because of the lack of serious new-music groups, large or small, that specialize in presenting melodic and tonal music written by living composers. Including Jazz and classical music, Eclectix has presented over 100 living composers in 15 years. (see review.) Ron Carter's pieces for cello quartet were given their first reading on an Eclectix concert. Other concerts have presented works by Dave Brubeck, Ward Swingle, Earl Robinson (premiere), and Meyer Kupferman. Appearing on the Eclectix stage have been ensembles lead by Dick Hyman, Jane Ira Bloom, Jeremy Steig, and the Gregg Smith Singers.
In 2007 Lee founded the Eclectix Dance Company in order to develop the technique in which the audience can see and feel live-music changing in response to the dancers movements – and vise versa. McClure creates all the music on Electric Flute, and contributes significant ideas for the choreography, lighting, costumes, and stage-design. The company's debut performance was at the New Dance Group Theater (NYC). For a capacity house the company performed at the Cutting Room (NYC) on the Berklee Alumni concert in 2008.
Lee's Electric Flute is a silver flute put through 12 processors and a sampler. It is a one-man-band producing grand-canyon echoes, sparkling highs and profound bass that are occasionally combined with samples of percussion ensembles. Styles vary from dark industrial environments and heavy-metal-rock to Jazz, ambient collages and pastoral Impressionism. His 2011 CD Black Light features Lee with guitarist Barry Wedgle and percussionist Eddie Hall.
Lee is a graduate of the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College where he received a B.S. in Music Composition. He also studied at the University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco Art Institute, and Berklee College of Music in Boston. A recipient of numerous ASCAP Special Awards, Lee's compositions have been performed by the Old First Orchestra of San Francisco, the Saturday Brass Quintet, and he has received commissions from the Janet Gerson Dance Company, the King David Orchestra and the Breve Trio.
As an author, Lee was invited to present his essay The Separation of Art and Society at the Society of Composers Inc's 1997 national conference in Miami. At Touro College, McClure assembled 12 hours of recordings of 5-minute excerpts from 350 years of American music for a survey course that he designed and taught.