Mendel Lee

Founding Executive Director

Mendel Lee (he/him) (b. 1975) is a music professional whose career oscillates between composition/artistic entrepreneurship and music education/pageantry arts. Based in New Orleans, LA, he is currently the Founding Executive Director of nienteForte Contemporary Music, a member of the Rhythm X, Inc. Board of Directors, a composer and performer with Versipel New Music, and a former Assistant Director of Tulane Bands.

Mendel’s artistic vision has earned him recognition as a VCCA Fellow and a National Performance Network (NPN) Take Notice Fund grantee. His work has been featured nationally and internationally, most recently with the World Expo 2020 Dubai, New Music on the Bayou, the 57th Indiana State University Contemporary Music Festival, and the National Performance Network Annual Conference Artist Showcase. His music has been described as “finding the right balance between minimalist… [static] space and forward motion and trajectory.” His solo timpani work Timpani Forces has been praised as a “…virtuosic tour de force…[whose] attention to melodic and lyrical content and the creative use of glissandi result in a unique addition to the repertoire.”

In addition to his regular performing duties with Versipel New Music, Mendel has performed as a percussionist and brass band snare drummer for various national and international events, including the “Shakespare 400” jazz funeral in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, and the 2022 NCAA Final Four “Fan Fest”. He has also been the guest panelist and speaker about his music and his work as a composer and educator at the University of Hawaii, Louisiana State University, and New Music Gathering 2023.

In his spare time, he enjoys a myriad of amateur hobbies including cooking (and eating), data analytics and spreadsheets, branding/graphic design, audio/video/motion graphics production, poker, and tabletop and digital games.

Stephen Montalvo

Operations and Outreach Director

Stephen Montalvo (b.1984) is an active composer and performer of acoustic and electronic music, as well as an audiovisual installation artist, based in New Orleans, LA. Through his music, he explores concepts related to resonance and rhythmic interplay and draws inspiration from social, ecological, and political concerns. His works have been performed throughout the United States, and internationally at the Osaka University of Arts Electronic Music Festival, by artists and ensembles including the Portland Percussion Group, Megan Ihnen, Rhythm Method String Quartet, Bent Duo, Talea Ensemble, and the Omaha Percussion Ensemble. Additional collaborations include audiovisual installation projects for LUNA (Light Up NOLA Arts) Fête and SALON Gallery, hosted by the New Orleans Arts Council, as well as with the Virtual Krewe of Vaporwave.

As a percussionist, Stephen has participated in performances with the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra, Midland Odessa Symphony and Chorale, Texas Medical Center Orchestra, and the Louis Moreau Institute for New Music Performance. He currently performs nationally with Mike Dillon’s New Orleans Punk Rock Percussion Consortium as well as in New Orleans with various local performers.

Stephen holds a Master of Arts in Music Composition from Tulane University where he studied with Maxwell Dulaney and Rick Snow and a Bachelor of Music from West Texas A&M University, where he studied percussion with Susan Martin Tariq and composition with Joseph Nelson and Robert Denham. Current affiliations include the Society of Composers, the National Association of Composers/USA, and the Vic Firth Education Team as a Scholastic Educator and Marching Percussion Specialist.