About

New Zealand pianist Mike Cheng-Yu Lee is one of a new generation of performers on historical pianos that span the early 18th to 20th centuries. His performances have garnered attention for the fresh perspectives they bring to familiar repertoire. For his debut recital in Australia he received a coveted five-star review in Limelight Magazine: “Try as one might, it was hard to avoid cliché responses like ‘stunning’, even ‘electrifying’. I don’t think I have heard a Mozart recital quite like this. I heard things in Mozart’s music I had never thought possible and certainly had never encountered before.”

Awarded Second and Audience prizes at the inaugural Westfield International Fortepiano Competition by a jury that included the late Christopher Hogwood and Robert Levin, Mike regularly collaborates with both historical and modern performers such as Michael Tilson Thomas, musicians from the Juilliard, Formosa, and Aizuri quartets, Francisco Fullana (recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant), Clancy Newman (winner of the Walter W. Naumburg International Competition), among others.

As a passionate educator, Mike is frequently invited to teach and perform at some of the most prestigious music schools and institutions around the world. Recent engagements include the Fryderyk Chopin Institute (Warsaw) as artist-faculty at its 2023 Masterclasses, the Curtis Institute, Royal Academy of Music, New England Conservatory, Oberlin Conservatory, University of Southern California, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, etc. He is currently producing with ToneBase – the leading online learning platform – a series of pedagogical videos that introduce period pianos and their performing practices to its more than 8000 global subscribers.

In recent years, Mike has assumed the directorship and management of important instrument collections. In 2017-19 he was Director of the Australian National University Keyboard Institute, overseeing the maintenance, curricular application, and outreach efforts of the southern hemisphere's largest collection of historical pianos. From 2020-23 he was Artist-in-Residence at the Cornell Center for Historical Keyboards. In addition to developing artistic and educational programs within a research-university environment, Mike was Artistic Director of the first Cornell-Westfield Forte/Piano Summer Academy, taught into Cornell's DMA program, and curated the center's collection. Over the years he has had the privilege to work privately with instrument builders such as Rodney Regier, Paul McNulty, Thomas and Barbara Wolf.

As a scholar, Mike's research lies at the intersection between performance practice, analysis, and organology and has served as full-time Visiting Assistant Professor of musicology and music theory at the Eastman School of Music and Indiana University–Bloomington. To date, his published writings have engaged with autograph studies, hermeneutics, and embodiment in the music of Chopin (19th-Century Music) and musical form and historical meter in Schubert (Music Theory Online). Mike has additionally contributed articles to 18th-Century Music and Early Music America Magazine.

A graduate of the Yale School of Music, Mike holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University with a dissertation that was awarded the Donald J. Grout Memorial Dissertation Prize. His teachers include Boris Berman, Malcolm Bilson, Michael Friedmann, and the Haydn scholar James Webster.