"Mills emerged in his element here, showing an obvious fondness for this epic, unjustifiably neglected score. Along with a compelling dramatic arc, he elicited characterful playing for the many solos that enrich it."
-Thomas May, Musical America
Five-time winner of the Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, Lee Mills is internationally recognized as a passionate, multifaceted and energetic conductor. In naming Mills as the ‘New Artist of the Month’ for March 2022, Musical America praised Mills’ ‘omnivorous musical temperament eager to try out highly contrasting musical styles and approaches.’
During the pandemic, Mills was an invaluable asset to the Seattle Symphony, giving dozens of performances, including the 2020 Season Opening Gala on Seattle Symphony Live, and recording multiple albums with the orchestra. Mills also was the ‘hero of the hour’ (Seattle Times) when he stepped in at the last minute to replace Thomas Dausgaard for a performance of Hanna Lash’s world premiere double-harp concerto The Peril of Dreams and Amy Beach’s epic Gaelic Symphony in November 2021, about which Thomas May wrote in Musical America, ‘Mills emerged in his element here, showing an obvious fondness for this epic, unjustifiably neglected score. Along with a compelling dramatic arc, he elicited characterful playing for the many solos that enrich it.’
In the fall of 2022, Mills was the Solti Foundation U.S. Resident at Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he worked with maestro Enrique Mazzola on the Lyric's production of Verdi's Don Carlos. The League of American Orchestras selected Mills for the 2018 Bruno Walter National Conductors Preview where he conducted the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, and in 2017 Mills was selected as a semi-finalist in both the Sir Georg Solti International Conducting Competition and the Opera Royal de Wallonie-Liege International Opera Conducting Competition. In addition, he conducted alongside David Robertson in the highly acclaimed U.S. Premiere of John Cage’s Thirty Pieces for Five Orchestras with the Saint Louis Symphony.
In addition to his work with the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra and the Seattle Symphony, he has also led concerts with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Naples Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra (USA), the Rochester Philharmonic, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, the San Antonio Symphony and the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra. In 2014, Mills was the Assistant Conductor to David Robertson for Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the USA.
Through his project Vibe Sinfônica, initiated in 2018 in partnership with nightlife producer The Week Group in São Paulo, he has brought classical music to thousands of new listeners through performances in unusual settings. In their inaugural performance, Vibe Sinfônica performed music of Vivaldi at The Week Group’s 14th anniversary in São Paulo, playing to a crowd of over 10,000 EDM fans and opening for DJ Offer Nissim. This project was also featured in a video clip of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, created to commemorate the 15th anniversary of The Week.
At the invitation of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Music Director Marin Alsop, he received the prestigious BSO-Peabody Institute Conducting Fellowship in 2011. Under the tutelage of Gustav Meier and Marin Alsop, Mills received his Graduate Performance Diploma and Artist’s Diploma in Orchestral Conducting at the Peabody Institute. He was a conducting fellow at the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen during the summers of 2012 and 2013, working closely with Larry Rachleff, Robert Spano and Hugh Wolff. Mr Mills graduated cum laude from Whitman College, where he studied with Robert Bode.