Palo Alto Philharmonic

serving the Bay Area with quality classical music since 1988

Thomas Shoebotham Music Director
Thomas Shoebotham
Lee Actor Composer-in-Residence
Lee Actor

Lee Actor

Assistant Conductor and
Composer-in-Residence of
the Palo Alto Philharmonic

Composer/conductor Lee Actor joined the Palo Alto Philharmonic in 2001 as Assistant Conductor, and was named Composer-in-Residence the following year. The Palo Alto Philharmonic has premiered nine of Lee’s orchestral works, most recently Symphony No. 3 in 2013, commissioned by the orchestra. In February 2009 the Palo Alto Philharmonic and former St. Paul Chamber Orchestra principal horn and current Canadian Brass member Bernhard Scully performed his Concerto for Horn and Orchestra, First Prize Winner in the 2007 International Horn Society Composition Contest and a work that Daniel Coombs of Audiophile Audition called “[A] very solid addition to the French hornist’s contemporary concerto repertory”.

Lee has led the Palo Alto Philharmonic in presenting a series of notably successful annual Family Concerts, including a program of film music in 2014, and the Palo Alto Philharmonic’s Concerto Movement Competition concerts in 2003, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015. He also conducted two regular subscription concerts during the 2003-04 season, and a number of works on other programs over the past fourteen seasons.

Formerly a violinist with the Albany Symphony Orchestra, Lee 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. Lee 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, 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. Concerto for Piano and Orchestra received a Special Judge’s Citation for the 2015 American Prize in Orchestral Composition. Works that were finalists in various competitions include Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra, String Quartet No. 1, Circus Symphonicus, Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, Variations and Fugue for Orchestra, and Prelude to a Tragedy.

Lee’s orchestral music, which is characterized by its dramatic impact and emotional expressivity, has been performed by nearly 70 orchestras and bands in the U.S. and around the world. His first CD of orchestral works was released by MMC Recordings in June 2005, which Records International called " of the best new symphonic discs to have come our way." A second CD was released by Albany Records in April 2008, featuring Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, and was nominated for 2008 "Best of the Year" classical CD by Classical 94.5/WNED in Buffalo, NY. His latest CD 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 Lee's fourth solo CD in February 2015, featuring Concerto for Piano and Orchestra and Symphony No. 3.

Lee has received awards and grants from ASCAP, the American Music Center, the International Horn Society, the Ridgewood Symphony, and The American Prize in Composition. Visit his website at for further information, including audio excerpts from his works.