Acclaimed artist and global visionary Josephine Lee serves as the President and Artistic Director of Chicago Children’s Choir (CCC), where she has revolutionized the field of youth choral music through cutting-edge performances of diverse repertoire and innovative collaborations with world-class artists. Through her vision and leadership, Ms. Lee has established CCC as one of Chicago’s premier cultural institutions, solidifying partnerships with renowned arts organizations, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Ravinia Festival and directing new works that capture the pulse of contemporary life in the global age. Ms. Lee has led Chicago Children’s Choir in performance honors for such dignitaries as former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama preceding the 2017 Presidential Farewell Address; his Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso for his 2011 message in Chicago; and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for his 2011 inauguration.
Recent projects include the co-creation of the original world musical Sita Ram with David Kersnar of Lookingglass Theatre, which enjoyed sell-out performances in its 2012 remount; an original piano composition, The Good Goodbyes, commissioned by Frank Chaves and River North Dance Chicago; the development of a fully staged theatrical work with the Q Brothers; and an original suite for piano and cello, Ascension, commissioned by Ballet Chicago. Ms. Lee was also a collaborator on Chance the Rapper’s Grammy Award-winning Coloring Book and led choruses in studio recordings for the album and tour performances in 2016.
As a classically trained musician born in Chicago and the daughter of Korean immigrants – one from the North and one from the South – Ms. Lee has dedicated her career to fostering intercultural understanding through musical excellence, empowering CCC singers to become global citizens. In 2008, through a grant from the MacArthur Foundation International Connections Fund, Ms. Lee led a tour to the Republic of Korea, where CCC became the first non-Korean civilian group to be granted permission to enter the Yeolsei Observation Platform in the Demilitarized Zone. Ms. Lee has also led tours nationally and internationally to 20 countries since 1999, including: Cuba (2016), where CCC became the largest American youth organization to visit after the reestablishment of U.S. and Cuban diplomatic relations, which was supported in part by the U.S. Embassy in Havana; South Africa (2014), in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of Apartheid; and India (2013), as a landmark cultural exchange supported in part by the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.
In 2015, Ms. Lee founded Vocality, a festival chorus comprising Chicago Children’s Choir alumni as well as young vocal artists from a wide array of communities within and surrounding the city of Chicago whose mission is to exemplify the highest level of choral singing with an emphasis on excellence and diversity within its membership. Vocality made its premiere in July 2015 at Ravinia Festival in a concert performance of Porgy and Bess with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Bobby McFerrin.
In recognition of her leadership of Chicago Children’s Choir, Ms. Lee received the Roman Nomitch Fellowship in 2012 to attend the Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management program and was awarded the Jesse L. Rosenberger Medal in 2014 from the University of Chicago. Ms. Lee was recently featured in “The Transformative Power of Music,” a segment on Oprah Winfrey Network’s acclaimed show, Super Soul Sunday. Ms. Lee holds a bachelor’s degree in piano performance from DePaul University and a master’s degree in conducting from Northwestern University.