About Helen Yee
Helen Yee is a violinist, multi-instrumentalist, composer residing in the worlds of music between East and West, traditional and new, “high” and “low.” Over her years in New York City she has taken the best of her classical training and then expanded beyond the confines of that tradition – to improvise and compose in multiple styles. She is currently violinist for the eclectic string trio, Trio Tritticali, which in 2011 released its debut recording “Issue #1,” reviewed by Lucid Culture as “one of the most gripping, intelligent, richly eclectic albums of recent years.”
From 1999 to 2009 Ms. Yee was an original member of Invert, a New York City-based string quartet performing original music by its members and unique arrangements of works by other composers. Invert literally turned the format of the traditional string quartet on its head – featuring two cellists instead of the usual two violins. The group’s members were firmly rooted in rock, jazz and world musics and these influences were reflected in their compositions, which ranged from pieces evocative of soundtracks from expressionist cinema to driving melodic works that often feature open sections of improvisation. Invert has been featured in Vanity Fair, Time Out NY and Baltimore Magazine and have performed at Irving Plaza, Joe’s Pub, the Knitting Factory, and The Kitchen. They have performed on bills with groups such as Ethel, The Rachels, Mission of Burma and have backed the rock band, Guided By Voices on their CD, Universal Truths and Cycles. In Fall 2005 Invert toured the U.S., opening for Rachel’s in venues as varied as The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco and Cactus Cafe in Austin, TX.
Ms. Yee has performed in Off Off Broadway productions of experimental theatre, including work with Mabou Mines. She teamed with Matt O’Hare to compose and perform the music for the 2011 production of Manon/Sandra, presented at the New York Fringe Festival. She also composed and performed on solo violin for Harry’s Christmas, for the 2012 American launch of Chopt Logic. And in Fall 2006 she wrote and performed music for solo violin for the darkly comedic play, Krankenhaus Blues, produced by Visible Theatre. Helen Yee has also performed and recorded with a number of rock/pop/hip-hop bands including Akim Funk Buddha, Mairead, Twenty % Tippers, Too Cynical to Cry and Neycha. As a session musician she has contributed to a number of movie soundtracks, including Cost of Living, Number One, Tug of War, and Martin Scorcese’s Kundun.
She has performed extensively in the New York area in venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall, CBGB’s, Lincoln Center and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has been part of residencies at Music Omi International Musicians Residency, Colgate University, Peabody Conservatory, workshops at Manhattan School of Music, and her experience includes many workshops for children in arts-in-education programs. She was also recently a presenter on the subjects of alternative chamber music and strings around the world at the American String Teachers Association national conference.
Helen Yee has also been a long-time member of Music From China, for which she performs on yangqin and percussion. Music From China, an ensemble that performs traditional and new music on traditional Chinese instruments, is a recipient of the Chamber Music America/ASCAP award for adventurous programming. In 2000 she appeared on the stage with Yo-Yo Ma and Music From China in a concert of new work by Zhou Long, at Washington D.C.’s Freer Gallery.
A native of New York, Ms. Yee began with classical training and after earning her BA at Yale University continued her studies in jazz and improvisation, including work with Julie Lyonn Lieberman, Rob Thomas, Richard Tabnik and Roni Ben-Hur. In addition, she has also explored improvisation in other contexts including Sound Painting™ as directed by Walter Thompson and vocal and instrumental improvisation with various groups including Music For People.