McIntire and Lee Produce Prizewinning Pieces
Two globally recognized musicians have focused laser beams of acclaim on UMKC and its Conservatory of Music and Dance. Recipients of the Alumni Spotlight Award, the two have succeeded against monumental odds.
Andy Lee (MM ’06, DMA ‘10) and David McIntire (DMA ’09) have garnered international recognition in classical music, specifically the world of minimal and electroacoustic music.
They met as graduate students at UMKC in 2005 and decided to form a partnership to produce the music they loved. They launched a company, Irritable Hedgehog Music, in 2010 – a risky and entrepreneurial move. The recorded music industry had been in decline for many years, and small, independent labels had a dismal record of success.
McIntire and Lee bucked that trend. The Hedgehog label is now a significant voice in minimalist and electroacoustic music. They have released more than a dozen albums to date. One of their recordings, Dennis Johnson’s “November,” was named best recording of 2013 by Steve Smith of “Time Out New York.”
Lee and McIntire will receive the Spotlight Award at the annual Alumni Awards luncheon on Thursday, April 23. The Spotlight Award is given by the campus and the UMKC Alumni Association to alumni whose accomplishments, leadership and public service have drawn national attention to the University and the metropolitan area.
Both men grew up with music all around them. Lee cut his teeth on Motown, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff. For McIntire, it was church choir pieces, Sibelius, folk songs and film scores.
“Music chose me, rather than the other way round,” McIntire said. “When I was about twelve, I bought a clarinet, the same one I play to this day, with money I earned raising calves.”
He says he considered engineering, but spent all his time listening to music, reading about music and avoiding engineering.
A chance meeting between McIntire’s wife, Michelle, and Lee in a class at UMKC led her to introduce the two men. They discovered a common interest in minimal music. The McIntires attended Lee’s recital performance of Tom Johnson’s ‘An Hour for Piano,’ and David declared Lee’s performance better than any he’d ever heard.
“Well,” his wife replied, “Andy should record it, and you should produce it.”
Lee and McIntire had found a calling.
“I wanted to produce recordings we could be proud of, and not lose our shirts,” McIntire said. With Lee in his stable of artists, that was almost guaranteed.
Lee, a pianist, is one of the foremost interpreters of minimal music, known for his impressive solos. He has recorded six albums with Irritable Hedgehog. Their recording of William Duckworth’s “The Time Curve Preludes” was named a 2012 Critics Choice by “Gramophone,” the gold standard in classical music reviews.
This genre of music is created by performing acoustically-played, or “unplugged” music, using “plugged” techniques such as loops, feedback and layering. Instruments are usually orchestral-based, but anything goes. Duckworth’s music uses chanting, some Erik Satie piano notes and even a banjo thrown in. Lee and McIntire plan to premiere a work by composer Scott Unrein that is meant to last from sunset until sunrise.
Minimalist music has an ethereal, other-worldly sound, sensitively layered and calmly paced. Lee says that, unlike the drama of Beethoven and other classicists, minimalists fill you with wonder.
Of their years at UMKC, both fondly recalled the insight, energy and generosity of Conservatory faculty, especially James Mobberley, Paul Rudy and Andrew Granade.
“I strive to honor their example in my own teaching,” McIntire said.
McIntire admits his path has been a meandering one, but he has reached his goal: to teach music in higher education. He is assistant professor of Music Technology at Missouri Western State University, where he teaches music technology and electronic music.
Lee is associate university minister for Liturgical and Sacred Music at Regis University in Denver but says he is proud to be from Kansas City. “I take my drinking and grilling seriously,” said Lee, “and I have a penchant for interesting socks.”