biography

micro (6): I like creating things, primarily music.


short (62): Mendel Lee (he/him) (b. 1975) is a New Orleans-based composer whose percussion works have been praised as “…unique addition[s] to the repertoire”. Recognized as a VCCA Fellow and a NPN Take Notice Fund Grantee, he is committed to using his music and entrepreneurial spirit to strengthen collaboration between composers, performers, and audience to show that new music can be for everyone.


medium (396): Mendel Lee (he/him) (b. 1975) is a New Orleans-based composer whose career oscillates between composition, artistic entrepreneurship, and music education in the pageantry arts. Since exiting his long career as Assistant Director of Tulane Bands in 2022, his primary focus has been split between his own creative practice as a composer and his roles with nienteForte Contemporary Music as its Founding Executive Director, Versipel New Music as a composer, performer, and administrator, and Rhythm X, Inc. where he serves on the Board of Directors.

Since his career shift, Mendel’s artistic vision has rapidly earned him recognition, most notably as a VCCA Fellow and a National Performance Network (NPN) Take Notice Fund grantee. His music has been described as “finding the right balance between minimalist… [static] space and forward motion and trajectory.” His solo timpani work Timpani Forces has been praised as a “…virtuosic tour de force…[whose] attention to melodic and lyrical content and the creative use of glissandi result in a unique addition to the repertoire.” Mendel’s music and multimedia creations have recently been featured as a part of the Performing Media Festival exhibition at the South Bend Museum of Art, the Indiana State Contemporary Music Festival, the National Performance Network Annual Conference Artist Showcase, and New Music on the Bayou. He has also been a clinician and panelist at the University of Hawaii, Louisiana State University, and New Music Gathering concerning his creative practice, his recent career shift experience, and his music.

Mendel’s tenure with Tulane Bands gave him the distinct honor of arranging, producing, and directing numerous high-profile performances, bookended by the New Orleans Saints 2009 Super Bowl Victory Parade and the World Expo 2020 Dubai. His entrepreneurial innovation and collaborative spirit helped him forge a partnership between Rhythm X and the Cincinnati Bengals to establish their full-time NFL drumline. It also helped him establish a merger between Versipel New Music and nienteForte Contemporary Music in an effort to better serve and strengthen the identity of new music in the New Orleans and Gulf South region.

In his spare time, he is passionate about cooking (and eating), data analytics and spreadsheets, branding/graphic design, audio/video/motion graphics production, and tabletop and video games. He is also an amateur poker player and has a collection of one-dollar poker chips from over sixty poker rooms he’s played across the nation and in the UK.


long (1045): Mendel Lee (he/him) (b. 1975) is a New Orleans-based composer whose career oscillates between composition, artistic entrepreneurship, and music education in the pageantry arts. Since exiting his long career as Assistant Director of Tulane Bands in 2022, his primary focus has been split between his own creative practice as a composer and his roles with nienteForte Contemporary Music as its Founding Executive Director, Versipel New Music as a composer, performer, and administrator, and Rhythm X, Inc. where he serves on the Board of Directors.

Since his career shift, Mendel’s artistic vision has rapidly earned him recognition, most notably as a VCCA Fellow and a National Performance Network (NPN) Take Notice Fund grantee. His music has been described as “finding the right balance between minimalist… [static] space and forward motion and trajectory.” His solo timpani work Timpani Forces has been praised as a “…virtuosic tour de force…[whose] attention to melodic and lyrical content and the creative use of glissandi result in a unique addition to the repertoire.” He has been commissioned by internationally renowned timpanist David Constantine of the President’s Own Marine Band, Xavier University Symphonic Winds, The Concert Singers (Los Angeles, CA), Liminal Space (Houston, TX), MIATp (New Orleans, LA), Megan Ihnen (New Orleans, LA), Longleash (Brooklyn, NY), the Portland Percussion Group, and the West Chester University Percussion Ensemble, among others. His music and multimedia creations have been featured on Performer Media Festival (with the South Bend Museum of Art), Indiana State University Contemporary Music Festival, New Music on the Bayou, the National Performance Network Annual Conference Artist Spotlight, the Southern Sonic Festival, the San Francisco Festival of Contemporary Music, the Greater Portland Flute Society Flute Fair, Versipel New Music, nienteForte Contemporary Music, and Future Music Oregon, among others.

Mendel’s passion for new music advocacy led him to form nienteForte Contemporary Music, a new music residency organization dedicated to championing contemporary music in New Orleans. With over a decade of curated concerts, masterclasses, and podcasts featuring renowned new music ensembles across the globe, nienteForte has earned grants and recognition from the National Performance Network, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation, the Amphion Foundation, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, and New Music USA. Highlight residencies include Longleash, Hub New Music, Lovemusic, MIATp, Ensemble Linea, TALEA Ensemble, Rhythm Method String Quartet, TAK Ensemble, Bent Duo, Sixto Franco, and the Portland Percussion Group, and featuring composers including Erin Gee, Yu-Hui Chang, Jessica Meyer, and Yotam Haber. nienteForte’s cultivation of the New Orleans new music community has led to event production partnerships with Tulane University, the University of New Orleans, FOCI Arts, Sidebar NOLA, the Marigny Opera House, and the Hotel Peter and Paul.

Mendel performs regularly as a percussionist with Versipel New Music. He has also performed as a brass band snare drummer for various national and international events, including the “Shakespare 400” jazz funeral in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, the 2022 NCAA Final Four “Fan Fest” events, and the New Kids on the Block Mardi Gras World block party in 2016 and 2018. He has also performed as a pianist, percussionist, vocalist, and conductor for the Hundredth Monkey Ensemble, as well as serving as a guest performer/conductor for the West Chester University Percussion Ensemble, the Oregon Percussion Ensemble, Ensemble Pamplemousse, Ensemble 504, Green Wave Winds, Green Wave Brass Band, the 2020 VirTUal Symphony Project at Tulane University, and the Crossmen 50th Anniversary Alumni Corps.

As an Innovative Percussion Educational Artist who marched in the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps and the Incomparable Golden Rams Marching Band of West Chester University, Mendel built a successful career as a creative designer, clinician, and educator of numerous high school, collegiate, and professional marching and pageantry arts organizations nationwide. In his debut year as the creative designer for Hermiston High School’s Marching Band, his show earned them placement in finals for the first time in their program’s history. In addition to his creative design and pedagogical duties with Tulane Bands, he helped coordinate performances and production logistics for their participation as a featured ensemble in the World Expo 2020 Dubai. He also coordinated other high-profile events for Tulane Bands, including the 2009 New Orleans Saints Super Bowl Victory Parade, the 2010 Krewe of NFL Kickoff Parade, the 2018 Cure Bowl, and the 2020 Armed Forces Bowl. He also coordinated Tulane Bands’ televised appearances in Wheel of Fortune College Week (2011), the Fox and Friends 2013 Super Bowl Week broadcast, the second season of “NCIS: New Orleans” (2016), the second season of MTV’s “Brothers Green – Eats!” (2016), the aforementioned New Kids on the Block Mardi Gras World Block Party (2016 and 2018), and the 2022 NCAA Final Four All-Star Game. His experience creatively and administratively has led him to serve on the Board of Directors for Rhythm X, Inc., a world-renowned Independent World WGI Percussion Ensemble.

Mendel’s entrepreneurial innovation and collaborative spirit has helped establish and strengthen various music organizations and partnerships throughout his career. Most recently he has helped forge a partnership between Rhythm X and the Cincinnati Bengals to establish their full-time NFL drumline. He also spearheaded a merger between Versipel New Music and nienteForte Contemporary Music in an effort to better serve and strengthen the identity of new music in the New Orleans and Gulf South region.

Mendel’s arts advocacy has also included work as an adjudicator and clinician. He has served as a grant reviewer for the aforementioned Take Notice Fund as well as the MAP Fund, and he has served as an adjudicator and clinician for the Worldstrides Heritage Performance Programs, the Louisiana Marching Band Circuit and the Louisiana-Mississippi Color Guard and Percussion Circuit. He has also been a clinician and panelist at the University of Hawaii, Louisiana State University, and New Music Gathering concerning his work as a composer, his recent career shift experience, and his music.

In his spare time, he is passionate about cooking (and eating), data analytics and spreadsheets, branding/graphic design, audio/video/motion graphics production, and tabletop and video games. He is also an amateur poker player and has a collection of one-dollar poker chips from over sixty poker rooms he’s played across the nation and in the UK.

Timpani Forces is published and available for purchase at tapsace. His other music is available for purchase at his store.