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.