Composer and conductor Lee Actor (b. 1952) was one of five composers selected in November 2014 as an “Honored Artist of the American Prize”, the first time this prestigious award has been bestowed. He has won a number of awards for his compositions, most recently for Dance Rhapsody, winner of the Austin Civic Orchestra Composition Competition and second place winner of the 2011 American Prize in Orchestral Composition, Redwood Fanfare, a winner of the 2009 Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra Fanfare Competition, and Concerto for Horn and Orchestra, the First Prize Winner in the 2007 International Horn Society Composition Contest.

Actor’s works have also been finalists in numerous competitions. Divertimento for Small Orchestra was a finalist for the 2016 American Prize in Orchestral Composition, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra received a Special Judge’s Citation for the 2015 American Prize in Orchestral Composition, Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra was a finalist for the 2014 American Prize in Orchestral Composition, and String Quartet No. 1 was a finalist for the 2014 American Prize in Chamber Music Composition. Circus Symphonicus was a finalist in the Columbia Orchestra’s 2013 American Composer Competition; Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra was a finalist for the 2013 American Prize in Orchestral Composition; Concerto for Violin and Orchestra was a finalist for the 2012 American Prize in Orchestral Composition; Variations and Fugue for Orchestra was a finalist in both the Columbia Orchestra’s 2007 American Composers Competition and the Holyoke Civic Symphony 2005 Composition Competition; and Prelude to a Tragedy was selected as a finalist in the Columbia Orchestra’s 2005 American Composers Competition.

Actor has received commissions from the Palo Alto Philharmonic, the Redwood Symphony, the Mission Chamber Orchestra, the Silicon Valley Symphony, the Saratoga Symphony, the University of South Dakota, the Skaneateles Festival, the South Bay Guitar Society, and the Peninsula Symphony. His works have been performed by more than 80 orchestras and bands in the United States and around the world. His first album of orchestral works was released by MMC Recordings in June 2005, which Records International called “…one of the best new symphonic discs to have come our way.” A second album was released by Albany Records in April 2008, featuring Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, which was nominated for 2008 “Best of the Year” classical CD by Classical 94.5/WNED in Buffalo NY. A third album of orchestral music, featuring Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra and Dance Rhapsody, was released in 2011 by Navona Records, and subsequently named to Audiophile Audition’s list of “Best of the Year Discs for 2011.” Navona Records released Actor’s fourth solo album in February 2015, featuring Concerto for Piano and Orchestra and Symphony No. 3.

Formerly a violinist with the Albany (NY) Symphony Orchestra, Actor has advanced degrees in both engineering and music composition. He has studied composition with Donald Sur, Brent Heisinger, Charles Jones, and Andrew Imbrie, and conducting with Angelo Frascarelli, David Epstein, and Higo Harada. Actor was named Composer-in-Residence of the Palo Alto Philharmonic in 2002, following his appointment as Assistant Conductor in 2001, and was Assistant Conductor of the Nova Vista Symphony from 2008 to 2010.

Albums

In Tandem

Release Date: May 24, 2019
Catalog Number: NV6227
21st Century
Chamber
Solo Instrumental
Clarinet
Piano
Violin
Introducing the album is Lee Actor’s Duo for Violin and Cello. The track, which won the Eva Thompson Phillips Award for Composition in 1979, is a short, textured, and powerful piece. In ABA form, the energy of the stringed instruments swings like a parabola from the height of sharp, angular rhythms down into deep and gentle expressions and builds up to a sharp, explosive climax.
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Piano Concerto

Release Date: February 10, 2015
Catalog Number: NV5986
21st Century
Concertos
Orchestra
Piano
Maestro Kirk Trevor praises composer Lee Actor as "one of the refreshing new classical voices ... who can still use a traditional language with a freshness that makes the music alive and interesting." On his latest Navona Records release PIANO CONCERTO, Actor presents three orchestral works, performed by Trevor and the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra, that are engaging and tonal yet dramatic and modern.
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Saxophone Concerto

Release Date: April 1, 2011
Catalog Number: NV5848
21st Century
Concertos
Orchestra
Saxophone
Saxophone Concerto is the latest release from renowned composer Lee Actor, featuring five compositions: Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra (2009), which exploits the considerable dramatic and expressive possibilities of the saxophone; Dance Rhapsody (2010) for orchestra, which consists of several strongly rhythmic dance sections interspersed with two slower, nonrhythmic interludes; Concerto for Horn and Orchestra (2007), a work of compact dimensions, consisting of three movements; Opening Remarks (2009), a brisk, upbeat, 6-minute work for orchestra designed as a concert opener; and Celebration Overture (2007), a joyous and invigorating piece with instrumentation similar to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Actor's music is filled with rhythmic drive and shows a superb ear for orchestral color, and he is able to create music that catches the ear and draws the listener into a world of emotion and drama.
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