The different portals of James Lee III’s Beyond Sensorial Portals is actually about your concert experience

Let’s go back in time a moment – do you remember the first concert you attended? What kind of sights, sounds, and feelings did you experience? If you could, would you experience that first-time experience again like the delight of reading your favorite book for the first time all over again? This is the premise of Beyond Sensorial Portals by James Lee III.

A theme of celebration, this composition reveals the experience of the opening of a new concert hall. Particularly, the opening of Steinmetz Hall at the Dr. Phillips Center and the celebration of a new stage for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. The title is based on the experience a concert goer may have and the different stages one goes through – hence, portals.

Portal 1: The Lobby

You enter the brand-new building with admiration. The chandeliers glow above you, the paintings in the foyer are from an elite gallery, all the while complementing the stunning art of the architecture. In the background, various conversations break out about the new work that everyone will soon hear.

As the main hall doors open, you are welcomed into a sight even more impressive. You enter the next “portal”.

Portal 2: The Hall

As you find your seat, you hear the soft passages of various musicians warming up. Clips and phrases of music soon to come together. You try to pick out the different melodies, curious about the new music to flood the concert hall for the first time. First the violin, then the oboe, or maybe the trumpet will give a glimpse into the notes as they dance across the sections of the orchestra. As the conductor enter from stage right and walks on stage, the next “portal” opens.

Portal 3: The Music

The conductor’s arms are lifted and upon release the first downbeat of the concert rushes new senses of sight and sounds to the audience. The movements of the conductor mesmerize while the coherent sounds emanating from the orchestra produce beauty. As the music continues, various episodes of the music include the magnificence and reflection upon the great Creator, who gave us this gift of music. Gratitude and awe overwhelm you. After continual ascents in the orchestra, the piece ends with a heroic and grand explosion of sound, reverberating through everyone in the hall.


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About James Lee III

James Lee III, born 1975 in St. Joseph, Michigan cites as his major composition teachers Michael Daugherty, William Bolcom, Bright Sheng, Betsy Jolas, Susan Botti, Erik Santos and James Aikman. He graduated with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan in 2005. As a composition fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center in the summer of 2002, he added Osvaldo Golijov, Michael Gandolfi, Steven Mackey and Kaija Saariaho to his roster of teachers, and studied conducting with Stefan Asbury.

His orchestral works have been commissioned and premiered by the National Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony Orchestra, and the orchestras of Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Omaha, Pasadena, Memphis, Grand Rapids, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Akron, and have been conducted by such artists as Leonard Slatkin, Marin Alsop, Michael Tilson Thomas, Juanjo Mena, David Lockington, Thomas Wilkins, and others.

During the upcoming 2022-2023 season, orchestras such as the Kansas City Symphony, Orlando Philharmonic, Arkansas Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Boston Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, and Rochester Philharmonic will also perform his music. James Lee III is a Professor of Music at Morgan State University in Baltimore, MD.