Mike Cheng-Yu Lee is one of a new generation of pianists performing on period pianos that span the early-18th to the 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 rare 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.”
Mike regularly collaborates with both historical and modern performers and ensembles. His collaborators have included Michael Tilson Thomas, musicians from the Formosa, Juilliard, and Aizuri quartets, and more recently Francisco Fullana (recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant), Clancy Newman (winner of the Walter W. Naumburg International Competition), among others.
Experienced at coaching modern performers, Mike is regularly invited to teach and perform at some of the most prestigious music schools and institutions around the world. Recent engagements include invitations from the International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments to be artist-faculty at its 2023 Masterclasses, the Smithsonian Institution to be faculty at its 2023 Beethoven Academy, and the Curtis Institute, Royal Academy of Music, Eastman, University of Southern California, UCLA, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, etc. More recently he made his ToneBase debut where he introduced period pianos to the leading online learning platform's 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 historical piano collection. From 2020-23 he was Artist-in-Residence at the Cornell Center for Historical Keyboards where he divided his work between performance, scholarship, and developing collaborative artistic and educational programs within a research-university environment. In addition, he was Artistic Director for the first Cornell-Westfield Forte/Piano Summer Academy, taught into Cornell's DMA program, and curated the center's instruments. 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 performer-scholar, Mike's research interests lie at the intersection between music theory and analysis, performance studies, and organology. In 2015-17 he was Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Theory at Indiana University–Bloomington and will join the Eastman School of Music in spring 2024 as Visiting Assistant Professor of Musicology. To date, his published writings have encompassed aspects of form, meter, and tempo in Schubert (Music Theory Online), hermeneutics, autograph studies, and embodiment in the music of Chopin (19th-Century Music). Mike has additionally contributed articles to 18th-Century Music and Early Music America Magazine.
A graduate of the New England Conservatory and Yale School of Music, Mike holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Cornell University with a dissertation that was awarded the Department of Music's Donald J. Grout Memorial Dissertation Prize. His teachers include Boris Berman, Malcolm Bilson, Michael Friedmann, and the Haydn scholar James Webster.