Lee  Heuermann

Lee Heuermann

Visiting Assistant Professor - History, Theory

Lee Heuermann is a composer/pianist,  singer/actor, and teacher. She was formerly on the faculty of the University of Montana's College of Visual and Performing Arts and The Wilderness and Civilization Program, where she taught such classes as “Sound in the Natural World,” “Women in Music,” and “The Psychology of Music,” as well as classes in music composition.

Contact Me

(540) 231-8411
157 Squires (0138)
290 College Avenue
Blacksburg, VA 24061


Areas of Expertise

  • Music History & Literature

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., Stony Brook University
  • M.M., Yale University
  • B.A., New England Conservatory of Music

What is the most important quality for any student in the performing arts to cultivate?

The most important qualities (difficult to limit it to one) for any student in the performing arts to cultivate are a spirit of adventurousness and curiosity coupled with determination and a capacity for hard work.  When self-doubt occurs, which is inevitable with any sensitive human being, try to let it go and cultivate a sense of perseverance and of plowing through in spite of it, which will help build your confidence.  Cultivate a belief in, and a commitment to, your own intuitive capacity to know yourself and your creative process, and as a young student have a willingness and openness to discover it and let it unfold.  Cultivate a sense of humor and ability to laugh at your own mistakes and learn that if you’re not making mistakes you’re probably not growing.  Cultivate your own uniqueness.

What is the most satisfying or rewarding moment of your artistic process?

As a composer, the most satisfying moment of my artistic process is when I’ve made it through the starting of the piece (which is like delving in to the unknown and can feel unsettling) and have a path for how to proceed with composing this specific work.  For me each piece is different, so I strive to cultivate a fresh perspective with how I approach each new work.  But I really enjoy the phase when the clarity of what the piece is about has emerged. I have then  settled into a routine of daily composing, and know I’ve carved out the space for myself to dig in to it.

When do you first remember making the decision to go into the arts?  What were the circumstances?

I think it happened unconsciously when I was a very small child, maybe three or four, as I would always sit at my mother’s feet when she would practice.  She was an opera singer then (and is now an opera stage director). There was one aria called L’Altra Notte in Fondo al Mare, from Boito’s opera Mefistofele (based on the Faust legend) – that I would always beg her to sing and it would always make me cry.  It was so deeply sad and she sang it so beautifully that she always moved me to tears.  I think I understood early on that that was what art was supposed to do--and I wanted to do it.

Memberships & Affiliations

  • Founder of the Floating Feather Band, an international composer/performer collective, with musicians from Queensland Conservatorium (Brisbane, Australia), Montana, and Stanford University
  • Artist-in-Residence in composition at the Banff Center for the Arts

Honors & Awards

  • Received a National Endowment for the Arts/Interarts Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship for her performance art piece Wearing Water / Eating Cement – Icons to Kiss, with visual artist, Elizabeth Lide

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