biography

micro: I pretend to be a successful composer and music professional. I think some people actually believe it. The fools.


short: 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”. He is committed to strengthening collaboration between composers, performers, and audience to show that new music can be for everyone.


medium: Mendel Lee (he/him) (b. 1975) is a music professional whose career oscillates between composition, music education, artistic entrepreneurship, and the pageantry arts. His work has been performed across the globe, most recently as a part of World Expo 2020 Dubai, and 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.”

A passionate new music advocate, Mendel is the founder and executive director of nienteForte Contemporary Music, a new music presenting series based in New Orleans, LA. He is also the Co-Founder and an Executive Team Member of Toolbox Sessions, an organization whose mission is to connect composers and orchestrators with experienced performers and collaborators to delve into effective writing for their respective instruments and voices.

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, and the 2022 NCAA Final Four “Fan Fest”.

In his spare time, he enjoys a myriad of amateur hobbies including cooking (and eating), data analytics and spreadsheets, branding/graphic design, audio/video/motion graphics production, poker, and tabletop and video games.


long: Mendel Lee (he/him) (b. 1975) is a music professional whose career oscillates between composition, music education, artistic entrepreneurship, and the pageantry arts. Based in New Orleans, LA, he is the Executive Director and Founder of nienteForte Contemporary Music, the Co-Founder and an Executive Team Member of Toolbox Sessions, a composer and performer with Versipel New Music, and a former Assistant Director of Tulane Bands.

Mendel’s compositional work has been described as “finding the right balance between minimalist… [static] space and forward motion and trajectory.” His work Timpani Forces for solo timpani 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, LA), Liminal Space (Houston, TX), MIATp, Megan Ihnen, the Portland Percussion Group, Dylan Koester, and the West Chester University Percussion Ensemble, among others. His music has been featured at New Music on the Bayou, the Southern Sonic Festival, the San Francisco Festival of Contemporary Music, and the Greater Portland Flute Society Flute Fair, and he has had additional performances by Andy Kozar and Future Music Oregon, among others.

Mendel’s passion for new music advocacy led him to form nienteForte Contemporary Music, an organization dedicated to championing contemporary music in New Orleans which has curated concerts, masterclasses, and podcasts for over a decade. Highlights include residencies featuring renowned ensembles MIATp, Ensemble Linea, TALEA Ensemble, Rhythm Method String Quartet, TAK Ensemble, Bent Duo, and the Portland Percussion Group, and featuring composers including Erin Gee, Yu-Hui Chang 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, and the Hotel Peter and Paul.

Mendel’s commitment to strengthening collaboration between composers, performers, and audience members led to his involvement with Toolbox Sessions. As Co-Founder and an Executive Team Member, Mendel’s primary focus has been on its overarching business operations as well as its budgeting, branding, and website design. He has also served as a presenter for idiomatic percussion writing with an emphasis on physicality and logistics.

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, and the 2020 VirTUal Symphony Project at Tulane University.

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.

Mendel has served as an adjudicator and clinician for the Worldstrides Heritage Performance Programs as a part of their festivals in New Orleans, LA, and Nashville, TN, as well as for the Louisiana Marching Band Circuit and the Louisiana-Mississippi Color Guard and Percussion Circuit. In his spare time, he enjoys a myriad of amateur hobbies including cooking (and eating), data analytics and spreadsheets, branding/graphic design, audio/video/motion graphics production, poker, and tabletop and video games.

Mendel’s current background audio habits consist of:

  • productive background music – Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich
  • cooking and cleaning the kitchen – Bob’s Burgers or anything by Animals as Leaders
  • falling asleep – Bob’s Burgers

He is a devoted follower of YouTube channels Auralnauts, Francis John, Binging with Babish, and the First We Feast’s Hot Ones web series.

Timpani Forces is published and available for purchase at tapsace.