A native of Korea, Okkyung Lee has been developing her own voice in a contemporary cello performance and improvisation. Using her classical training as a springboard, she incorporates jazz, sounds, Korean traditional music, and noise with extended techniques.
Since moving to New York in 2000, she has performed and recorded with numerous artists such as Derek Bailey, Jaap Blonk, Nels Cline, Anthony Coleman, Mark Dresser, Shelley Hirsch, Susie Ibarra, Vijay Iyer, Eyvind Kang, Alonzo King, Christian Marclay, Raz Mesinai, Min Xiao-Fen, Thurston Moore, Ikue Mori, Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris, Jim O’Rourke, Zeena Parkins, Marc Ribot, Marina Rosenfeld, Elliott Sharp and John Zorn to name a few.
In addition to frequent solo performances and leading her own ensembles, she is involved with TOT Trio with percussionist Tim Barnes and turntablist Toshio Kajiwara; an improvisational duo NoNo Twins with dancer/choreographer Heather Kravas; Vijay Iyer and Mike Ladd’s “In What Language?” project and Burnt Sugar Arkestra Chamber, among many others.
In 2005, her music resulted in three releases: Nihm (TZK 7715), a compilation of her compositions on John Zorn’s Tzadik label; solo cello album on Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace label; and a duo album with tape wizard Aki Onda on Improvised Music from Japan label.
Notable appearances include International Festival Musique Actuelle Victoriaville, Canada with Thurston Moore, Off New York! concert series in Germany with her new project paper chase trio Raz Mesinai and Shelley Burgon. 2004 San Francisco Jazz Festival, 2004 Taktlos Festival in Zürich and Basel, Switzerland, 2003 la Biennale di Venezia in Italy, and Time Based Arts Festival in Portland, Oregon in 2003.
Okkyung holds dual bachelor’s degrees in film scoring/contemporary writing & production from Berklee College of Music, and master’s degree in contemporary improvisation from New England Conservatory of Music.