“Lemish’s talent and music are vital and interesting and alive in a way few artist’s work ever are. In the moment, and in the memory. Everything is charged with the joy of being alive.” – Jeff Langley, Composer and Director of the School of Performing Arts, Sonoma State University
Pianist, improviser and composer, Noam Lemish (b.1982), is a multi-faceted artist whose performances and compositions, often characterized by intense lyricism and energy, defy categorization. Based in Toronto, Canada, Lemish is presently engaged in a diverse array of projects including a quartet with Israeli jazz guitarist/oudist Amos Hoffman, a duo with percussionist George Marsh, a quartet presenting his original multi-movement suite “The People’s King: Music from Bhutan” and as co-artistic director of The Israeli-Iranian Musical Initiative (I=I).
In February 2016, Lemish and master percussionist George Marsh released The Turning, their third album of original compositions and improvisations. This follows their two earlier releases, Nightfall (2013) and Yes And (2008). Also released in spring of 2016 Lemish’s recording presenting W.A. Mathieu’s The Magic Clavier (Book I). Lemish has appeared in numerous performances across the US, Canada, Europe, Israel, and in Bhutan having played and performed with such musicians as: Sheila Jordan, John Handy, Julian Lage, James Newton, Dayna Stephens, Amos Hoffman, Eric McPherson, Pedram Khavarzamini, Frances-Marie Uitti, Donald “Duck” Bailey, Mel Graves, Babatunde Lea, Cameron Brown, Mel Martin, and many others.
While teaching in Bhutan during the 2009/2010 academic year, Lemish was commissioned by The Royal Office of Media to compose a special piece in celebration of His Majesty, the King of Bhutan’s 30th Birthday. “The People’s King” is a multicultural, multi-movement suite bringing together classical Western music, jazz, and traditional Bhutanese folk music. The recorded composition was delivered to His Majesty on his birthday February 21, 2010, followed by a live performance of selected portions before His Majesty on July 5, 2010. Since returning to North America, Lemish has rearranged the suite for jazz quartet and has performed it in numerous venues.
After a year of teaching music in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, Lemish returned to North America in 2010 undertaking graduate studies in Toronto. Lemish holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Jazz Performance (DMA) and a Master’s degree (MMUS) in Composition from the University of Toronto. His dissertation, titled: “Israeli Jazz Musicians in the International Scene: A Case Study of Musical Transculturation in Contemporary Jazz Performance and Composition”, focused on “Israeli Jazz”: a rich and multi-layered practice that fuses Israeli and non-Israeli musical influences, including American jazz in performances, recordings and composed works, largely in Israel and the United States. Through fieldwork with an array of Israeli performers who gained international prominence during the last twenty years and close musical analysis, Lemish explores circulating and contested understandings of cultural identity, jazz tradition and the international music business.
At the University of Toronto, Lemish created and taught courses titled “European Jazz: 1960 to the Present”, as well as “Jewish Music, History, and Culture”. He has also taught/is currently teaching an array of other courses including “Jazz Keyboard Skills”, “Small Jazz Ensemble”, “11 O’clock Orchestra” and at the University of Toronto-Scarborough, “Elementary Musicianship”, “Materials of Music II” and “Small Ensembles”.
Lemish began his jazz and classical studies in Israel. In 2002 he moved to Sonoma County, California to study under the tutelage of W.A. Mathieu. His extensive studies with Mathieu, a noted improviser, composer and theorist, were most formative and have left a lasting influence. Simultaneous to his private studies with Mathieu, Lemish completed his BA (Summa Cum Laude, With Distinction) in music at Sonoma State University in California, where he studied with Mel Graves, Will Johnson, and Marilyn Thompson.
His composition “Rebirth” commissioned by the University of Toronto 12TET was released in 2013 as the title track of the 12TET’s first recording. “Song for Lia”, a composition Lemish wrote to celebrate the birth of his niece appears on the University of Toronto 12TET’s second recording Trillium Falls which was released in Fall of 2016. Lemish also appears on Shea Breaux Wells’ album, Piece Of The Light (2006) and Jason Bodlovich’s 2010 release The Culprit. In addition to his original projects and work as a sideman, Lemish toured with Tony award winning theater company The San Francisco Mime Troupe (2003). He has composed chamber, choral and piano compositions, numerous jazz compositions as well as music for traditional Bhutanese instruments. He has also composed music for theater, dance, and film, most notably: UBU RULES! (2005); Verlaine: Muse and Music Maker (2005) and Article 13 (2009).
“As a musician he is deeply engaged, highly disciplined and his talent is without doubt world-class. I have every confidence that his music and thought will encourage his generation.” – W.A. Mathieu, pianist, composer, author and teacher