Ilse-Mari Lee serves as the Director of the University Honors Program at Montana State University in Bozeman. Born in South Africa, her principal teachers include Barbara van Wyk, Adolph Hallis, Betty Pack, Raya Garbousova, Gordon Epperson and Robert Muczynski. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Music from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Masters degrees in Cello Performance, and in Theory and Composition, from Northern Illinois University, and a Doctorate in Cello Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Arizona. She has performed in master classes for Mstislav Rostropovich, Pierre Fournier, Janos Starker, Steven Isserlis, Carter Brey, and Christopher Parkening.
Ilse-Mari is active as a concerto soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician, and performs regularly at the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She serves as principal cellist of the Intermountain Opera Company. In 1991, she was awarded the Montana Arts Council Individual Fellowship Award, and was selected to perform at the American Cello Congress in Phoenix. In 1992, she premiered the Cello Concerto, Opus 55, by Eric Funk. Collaborative performances include performances with the internationally renowned Moscow, Muir and Fry Street string quartets. CD releases include "The Duet Album" with classical guitarist Stuart Weber, "Song of the Cello" with pianist Michele Levin, and "In Performance at St. Timothy's with the Muir Quartet".
Dr. Lee founded the MSU Cello Ensemble in 1998. The ensemble was selected to perform at the 1999 All-Northwest MENC Conference in Portland Oregon. The ensemble has toured throughout the Northwest, as well as to Italy and Central Europe in May 2000 and to China in March 2006, performing in Beijing, Xian, and Tianjin.
Active as a composer, Ilse-Mari's compositions have been performed in South Africa, Canada, Europe, Southeast Asia and in China. In 2002, Ilse-Mari premiered her Cello Concerto, "Mandela", with the Billings Symphony. Most recently, her film scores for "Certain Green", and "Forced into Comfort, Fighting for Apology" were awarded gold medals at the Park City Film Music Festival in 2008 and 2009.
A dedicated teacher, she was awarded the "Mortar Board Professor of the Month", and the Bozeman Chamber of Commerce "Excellence in Teaching" Award. (2000, 2008, 2009). In 2008, Ilse-Mari was awarded the Wiley Award for Meritorious Research at Montana State University. She is a recipient of the prestigious President's Excellence in Teaching Award.