Society of Peabody Alumni
Citation for the Johns Hopkins University Knowledge For The World Award
April 22, 2010
The Knowledge for the World Award is a new award, given to individuals who exemplify the Johns Hopkins tradition of excellence and have brought credit to the university and their profession in the international arena.
Byeong Woo Lee, you resoundingly meet these criteria.
When you came to Peabody in 1998 to study classical guitar with Julian Gray, you were already famous as a pop musician in your native Korea. Julian first saw you in the plaza below his studio window surrounded by Korean students: your fans.
You have said of your studies with Julian: “We talked about life, love, and art. I always felt like my battery was recharged after we talked or had a lesson together.” Powered by that battery, you became the first classical guitarist to earn the 1st Place Award in the Yale Gordon Competition at Peabody.
Having earned a Graduate Professional Diploma in guitar performance, you went on to earn a second GPD, in chamber music, in 2000. Even before you returned to Korea, your guitar music was being used on the soundtracks of Korean films. Soon you were being asked to compose film music yourself.
You won a Blue Dragon Award—the Academy Awards of Korea—for Best Music in 2006 for The King and the Clown. That same year, your score for the film For Horowitz was also nominated. And that same year, the movie that won for Best Film, Gwoemul, directed by Joon-ho Bong, featured a score by none other than Byeong Woo Lee.
That contemporary take on classic “creature features” became the highest grossing film in Korean history and was released to international acclaim under the English title The Host. At last year’s Blue Dragon Awards, you were nominated for Best Music for the score for Mother, also directed by Joon-ho Bong, which won for Best Film.
With your recent move into writing music for online games such as Dragonika, your international career and audience are likely to grow exponentially.
Byeong Woo Lee, you are a man with a magic touch, combining musicality with intellect, modesty with charisma. The Peabody Chapter of the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association is honored to confer upon you the Knowledge for the World Award.