Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Announces Appointment of New Concertmaster: Jinwoo Lee

Milwaukee, Wis. May 8, 2023 – Following a more than four-year international search, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Ken-David Masur announce the appointment of Jinwoo Lee as concertmaster and holder of the Charles and Marie Caestecker Concertmaster Chair beginning in the 2023.24 season. Lee is currently the first concertmaster of the Neue Philharmonie Westfalen in Germany.

“It is a great honor to be named the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra,” said Lee. “I am absolutely thrilled and grateful to become a member of this marvelous ensemble, and I truly look forward to getting to know my new colleagues in the orchestra, the organization, and the city as I take on my new role.”

Lee succeeds Frank Almond, who stepped down as concertmaster at the end of the 2019.20 season, and Ilana Setapen – who has served as acting concertmaster since September 2020, and who will return to her role of associate concertmaster this fall.

“I am thrilled to welcome our new concertmaster Jinwoo Lee to the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra,” said Music Director Ken-David Masur. “His natural leadership gifts as well as his mindful and integrous approach to each work are qualities that will be a tremendous asset to the orchestra and a wonderful gift for Milwaukee audiences. Born in Korea and trained on three continents, Jinwoo brings a richness of cultural experiences with him, as well as an extensive performance history on the global stage. The works he led together with the orchestra during our search sparkled with energy, attentiveness to detail, a range of nuance and virtuosity, and great artistic spontaneity. What has impressed me the most, perhaps, is his great humility and curiosity in service to the music, a quality that both the MSO musicians and I share and respect deeply, and that I know will enrich our work together in this new artistic chapter.”

“I am delighted to welcome Jinwoo to Milwaukee,” said President and Executive Director Mark Niehaus. “We were fortunate to have Frank Almond serve as our concertmaster for 25 years, and we were grateful that Ilana Setapen stepped into the role during the pandemic and our first two seasons in the Bradley Symphony Center. As we were looking for a new concertmaster, we hoped to find someone who would also make Milwaukee their home and continue the legacy of artistic excellence that has been built by the musicians who came before.”

Jinwoo Lee, a native of South Korea, began playing the violin at the age of four. He is an international concert violinist with recitals and concerts with orchestras in the U.S., Korea, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia, France, Italy, Netherlands, and Austria, to name a few.

He is a frequent prize winner of international competitions, including 1st prize at the Sorantin Competition San Angelo, Texas (2007), 2nd & special prizes at the 20th International Rodolfo Lipizer Violin Competition in Gorizia, Italy (2001), special prize at the International Georg Kulenkampff Violin Competition in Cologne, Germany (1999), 2nd prize (1st prize not awarded), Audience, and Bach prizes at the 33rd International Tibor Varga Violin Competition in Sion, Switzerland (1999), 1st and special prizes at the 2nd International Lois Spohr Violin Competition for young violinists in Weimar, Germany (1998), 1st prize at the National German Competition “Jugend Musiziert” – categories solo violin & chamber music (1998), and special prize at the 7th International Yfrah Neaman Competition in Mainz, Germany (1997). He was the winner of the Manhattan School of Music concerto competition (2008) and the Waldo Mayo Memorial Violin Competition (2009). Most recently, he and his duo partner Eunice Kim were awarded the prize for Best Duo at the 20th International Violin & Piano Masterclasses of the Music Academy of Lausanne, Switzerland (2010).

Lee graduated from the Humboldt Grammar School in Cologne, Germany, in 2001. He studied with Stephen Clapp and Donald Weilerstein at The Juilliard School, where he received his Bachelor of Music degree in 2006. Two years later, Lee received his Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Robert and Nicholas Mann. He continued his studies with them at the Manhattan School of Music, where he received his Artist Diploma in 2009 and Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 2016. His former teachers include Michael Davis, Maria Giesy, Christiane Hutcap, Hyo Kang, Jongsuk Li, Igor Ozim, Jaegwang Song, and Viktor Tretjakov. He has had masterclasses with Pierre Amoyal, Bruno Canino, Pamela Frank, Miriam Fried, Leonidas Kavakos, Masao Kawasaki, Herman Krebbers, Cho-Liang Lin, Martin Lovett, Yfrah Neaman, and Sylvia Rosenberg.

He was a violin faculty at the Robert Schumann Musikhochschule in Düsseldorf from 2018 until 2022.

About the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, led by Music Director Ken-David Masur, is among the finest orchestras in the nation and the largest cultural institution in Wisconsin. Since its inception in 1959, the MSO has found innovative ways to give music a home in the region, develop music appreciation and talent among area youth, and raise the national reputation of Milwaukee. The MSO’s 72 full-time professional musicians perform over 135 classics, pops, family, education, and community concerts each season in venues throughout the state. A pioneer among American orchestras, the MSO has performed world and American premieres of works by John Adams, Roberto Sierra, Phillip Glass, Geoffrey Gordon, Marc Neikrug, and Matthias Pintscher, as well as garnered national recognition as the first American orchestra to offer live recordings on iTunes. Now in its 51st season, the orchestra’s nationally syndicated radio broadcast series, the longest consecutive-running series of any U.S. orchestra, is heard annually by more than two million listeners. The MSO’s standard of excellence extends beyond the concert hall and into the community, reaching more than 70,000 children and their families through its Arts in Community Education (ACE) program, Youth and Teen concerts, and Family Series.