Canadian scholar-performer Sonia Lee has given performances, talks, and masterclasses in nearly 150 cities and towns on four continents. Her performances have been praised as "masterly" (Aliénor News & Notes), "nicely rendered" (Early Music America Magazine), "full of elegance and expression" (Cleveland Classical), and possessing "grace and flair" (Sounding Board). She is a laureate of the Mae & Irving Jurow International Harpsichord Competition, the Montréal Baroque Galaxie-CBC Rising Star Competition, the Canadian Music Competition, and the American Musical Instrument Society William E. Gribbons Award.
Equally at home at the piano and historical keyboards—including harpsichord, organ, fortepiano, and clavichord—with a wide repertoire ranging from classical to contemporary to commercial to early music, she has appeared as soloist and collaborative artist at numerous festivals and venues, among them: Rome Festival (IT), Nordic Historical Keyboard Festival (FI), Early Keyboard Music Cycle of Buenos Aires (AR), Midtown Concerts (NY), Early Music Colorado Fall Festival (CO), Milwaukee Museum of the Pianoforte (WI), Schubert Club (MN), National Music Museum (SD), Château Ramezay (QC), Roy Thomson Hall (ON), Handel and Hendrix (UK), Tagliavini Collection at the Museum of San Colombano (IT), Deutsches Museum (DE), Óbudai Társaskör (HU), KEK Concerts (JP), Hong Kong Cultural Centre (CN), Taipei National Concert Hall (TW), and Olympus Hall (KR), and the early music festivals of Boston, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, and Utretcht. She has served as artist-in-residence at La Napoule Art Foundation (FR), the Piccola accademia di Montisi (IT), and Rucka Art Foundation (LV).
She has performed with many groups including the Classical Chamber Players, La Donna Musicale, L.A. Classics and Pops, Claremont Concert Choir, Concerto Urbano, Buon Tempo String Quartet, Rome Festival Orchestra and Opera, Sinfonia da Camera, Concerto da Camera, Camerata Antiqua Seoul, Asia Collegium Musicum, Hong Kong Bach Choir, Les Jeunes Virtuoses de Montréal, Pittsburgh Baroque Ensemble, Musicerend Gezelschap, Amor Musicae, and La Réunion Musicale, of which she is the founding artistic director. As director or guest director, she has led the University of Illinois Collegium Musicum, Dulces Exuviae, Musicerend Gezelschap, Phantasie String Orchestra, and the Dixie State University Strings. She is an advisor to Les Bostonades, Corelli Ensemble, Bach Collegium Moderne, and Concerto da Camera.
An advocate of contemporary and interdisciplinary projects, she has performed works by such prize-winning composers as Dagmar Feyen, James Dorsa, Kent Holliday, Asako Hirabayashi, Peter Machajdík, Luis Mucillo, Hyo-Shin Na, and herself.
Her discography includes collaborations with the Classical Chamber Players, La Donna Musicale, and La Réunion Musicale, featuring first recordings of music of Antonia Bembo, Joseph Weigl, Leopold Kozeluch, and Thomas Vincent on Mark Records, Arabesque, and other labels. Upcoming releases include four-hand piano music by Mozart, Schubert, and Brahms, and two song cycles by Richard Strauss. Her performances have been broadcast on radio and television in Canada, U.S., Hong Kong, and Vietnam, and can be heard as supplemental content on the website of W. W. Norton.
A sought after adjudicator and clinician, Lee has been invited to judge and teach at many regional and international competitions and festivals, including MTAC Branch Festivals, Illinois High School Association Solo and Ensemble Contests, Antelope Valley Symphony Orchestra Bach Piano Competition, Aliénor International Harpsichord Composition Competition, Calgary Performing Arts Festival, Canada West Performing Arts Festival, Medicine Hat Rotary Music Festival, and the Gianni Gambi International Harpsichord Competition. She has recently been appointed as the director of the prestigious Jurow International Harpsichord Competition.
She has given master classes (on piano, historical keyboards, chamber music, and orchestra) and lecture-performances at many institutions, among them: LA City College (CA), Irvine Valley College (CA), Utah Tech University (UT), Reed College (OR), Temple University (PA), Millersville University (PA), West Chester University (PA), Calvin College (MI), University of Notre Dame (IN), Eastern Illinois University (IL), Indiana Wesleyan University (IN), University of Waterloo (ON), McGill University (ON), University of Cambridge (UK), University of Oxford (UK), Conservatorio Statale di Musica "Gioachino Rossini” (IT), Alfrēda Kalniņa Cēsu Mūzikas Vidusskola (LV), Conservatory of Ho Chi Minh City (VN), Universidad de Costa Rica (CR), Conservatorio Provincial de Música Julián Aguirre (AR), Tainan National University of the Arts (TW), Hong Kong Baptist University (CN), and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CN). Her excellence in teaching has been recognized by a number of awards, including the “University of Illinois Teachers Ranked as Excellent.”
As a scholar, Lee's research interests focus on the performing traditions and rediscovered solo and collaborative literature of keyboard instruments, their cultural and social histories, and the modern and contemporary music scene. She has contributed articles to publications such as Musicians and Composers of the 20th Century (on Wanda Landowska, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Jean-Pierre Rampal, August Wenzinger, and Lauritz Melchior), Great Lives from History: Latinos (on Claudio Arrau), EMag: The Magazine of Early Music America, and Centaur. She has presented at conferences organized by the American Musical Instrument Society, Historical Keyboard Society of North America, Southeastern and Midwestern Historical Keyboard Societies, and various music teachers associations. She is a past thesis and dissertation reviewer of the School of Music of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is interim editor of the Historical Keyboard Society of North America (HKSNA) Newsletter and interim editor of the peer-reviewed Early Keyboard Journal.
Lee holds a B.A. (Hons) from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, a Licentiate in Music and an M. Mus. from McGill University, and a D.M.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she took additional doctoral work in musicology and library and information science. She also holds an Executive Certificate in public and nonprofit leadership from the Harvard Kennedy School. Her performance teachers included Charlotte Mattax, Hank Knox, Luc Beauséjour, Joyce Lindorff, Allison So, Sr. Lucile Gagné, and Kenneth Gilbert, and she has studied in masterclasses with Robert Levin, Arthur Haas, Andrew Willis, David Breitman, and Malcolm Bilson.
A past president of the Historical Keyboard Society of North America (HKSNA), she has served as music faculty and staff pianist at Illinois Wesleyan University, Scripps Colleges, the Joint Music Program of the Claremont Colleges, and Rio Hondo College. She is organist and music director at St. Mary in Palms in Los Angeles, and co-organist at Christ Church Parish, Ontario, CA.