Lee Santana was born into a musician’s family in Florida. His childhood and early youth he spent playing the guitar, first rock- and jazz, less ‘classical’, later, the other way around. In three college terms of studying the classical guitar he concentrated on new music as well as early music and became fascinated with the lute and historical instruments. So began studies in performance practise and early music at the Emerson College (Longy School of Music) in Boston, Massachussets. His main teacher for lute was Patrick O’Brien in New York.
A desire to write music, thwarted by a distrust of institutionalized new music, was temporarily appeased by an additional curriculum of music theory. He worked together with the composer Richard Cornell, who encouraged him to write his own pieces. He passed both courses of study with ‘Magna Cum Laude’ distinctions. Subsequently he studied privately with the lutenist Steve Stubbs in Europe.
In 1984 Lee Santana moved to Germany where he still lives as a free-lancing lute-player and composer. In the course of the years he has had the honour to perform with numerous very good ensembles as well as with interesting directors and soloists. He is active as a soloist and as duo partner of the gambist Hille Perl. Together they founded the trio LOS OTROS with Steve Player and the quartet THE AGE OF PASSIONS with Petra Müllejans and Karl Kaiser. He also plays in Hille’s ensemble ‘Sirius Viols’. All these projects, as well as programs of his own music have been documented on numerous CDs.
After three futile years teaching at the Hochschule für Künste in Bremen, Lee Santana is back full force on the concert circuit and in the recording studio. Several highlights this year include a new solo CD entitled „Pentagram“ with works of Bach, Vallet and Santana, as well as his first ECM recording with the legendary Manfred Eicher. He will also have the honour of accompanying his daughter Marthe Perl on her final exam.
When he is not touring he is hiding out with his family on an old farm somewhere in northern Germany.