• Sumi Lee

    Classical & Tango pianist

  • Biography


    Born in Seoul, Korea, Ms. Lee started learning how to play piano at the age of four taught by her mother at first.


    Two years later she won her first gold medal at the national piano competition and went on to win the Korea daily newspaper, Dong-A daily newspaper, and National music institution competition, which are some of the most prestigious piano competitions in Korea.


    When she was in junior high, she had an opportunity to get European style training when she attended Summer Academy “Mozarteum” in Salzburg, Austria, and studied with Professor Christoph Lieske .


    She attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and obtained her Master's degree after studying with Professor Mack McCray and Professor Justin Blasdale. She has also appeared in masterclasses with Professor Jin-Woo Jung, Daniel Pollack, Sharon Mann, and Harpsichord Professor Laurett Goldberg. She has studied instrumental and vocal accompanying with Professor Tim Bach at the Conservatory and she also privately studied opera coaching/vocal accompanying with Professor Marcie Stapp, 2002-2007


    She has performed many times as a soloist and an accompanist:

    Her piano performances were featured in a vocal ensemble, chamber music ensemble, solo recitals, piano & guitar duo concert with guitarists Florante Aguilar & Michael Walsh, September 2004.


    She also worked as an opera rehearsal and concert accompanist with Golden Gate Opera in 2002 (Carmen), Golden West Opera in 2004-2005 (Madama Butterfly), Eastbay Aria Club in 2007-2009 (Cosi fan tutti, Don Giovanni), Peninsula Teen Opera in 2008, San Francisco Boys Chorus in 2006-2007, San Francisco Girls Chorus in 2007, Mayflower Community Chorus in 2001-2002, San Francis Drake high school Chorus and many professional opera singers.


    She also taught music in the Redwood City school district and classical piano at East Bay Center of Performing Art, Northern California Music & Art center, and at Marin Country Day School, Corte Madera, CA during 2004-2009.


    Many of her students have made the honor rolls on Certificate of Merit, statewide evaluation in California, and many of her advanced level students were chosen to play for MTAC- SF branch festival concert every year 2008-2017.


    Spring 2017, her love of Piazzolla music lead her to discover in-depth the beauty, passion, and complexity of Argentine tango music in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After a live audition, she got accepted as a pianist for the prestigious tango orchestra school, " La Orquesta Escuela de Tango Emilio Balcarce" 14th batch and performed through rigorous 2-year training that was taught by world-renowned tango musicians and teachers such as Víctor Lavallén, Ignacio Varchausky, Cristian Asato, Ramiro Boero, Guillermo Rubino, Patricio Cotella and many living maestros guest including Jose Pepe Colangelo, Osvaldo Piro, Roberto Alvarez, Daniel Binelli, Mauricio Marceli, Nicolas Ledesma, and many more. The last concert with "La Orquesta Escuela de Emilio Balcarce" at Teatro General San Martin in Buenos Aires was sold out to a large audience and aired live via national radio 2*4 and TV Publica Argentina.


    Since moving back to the Bay Area in 2019 after receiving her diploma, she is actively performing and producing Traditional and Contemporary Argentine tango concerts with her colleagues & various groups in SF, Bay area.


    The ensemble groups she formed.

    "Corazón Tango" 2019 : Performed in Bay Area and South Korea.

    “Las Almas” (Women in tango): Perfoming tango concerts east & west coast such as SF International Arts Festival & Sebastopol Arts since 2020.

    "Buena Onda Tango Ensemble: Performing tango concerts in the east & west coast such as Artists Migration & La nuestra festival, NYC since 2021.

    "Sumi Lee Collective": Performing contemporary tango concerts with the local and visiting artists who share the similar vision since 2023.

    Ms. Lee and her group has performed in Buenos Aires, Seoul, NYC, Philadelphia, Portland, Toronto, Chicago, DC, Cleveland, Champagne-Urbana, Oahu, etc.


    She recorded the Gobbi Inedíto” album, 2018, and currently working on a new album for the Bandoneón & Piano duo of new compositions and solo piano album for 2023-2024. Her new music and recording projects have earned following grants: 2023 Intermusic SF, Musical grant program & 2023 California non-profit grant.


    She was a founding member of the international female tango orchestra group, "Solidaridad" during the pandemic 2021-2022. 


    Lastly, when Ms. returned to Bay Area from Argentina, she realized that the public gets limited exposure to performing artists of diverse cultures, especially in the fields of non-popular music such as Argentine Tango, and musicians do not receive sufficient support unless they have established a name for themselves already. This problem can be further exacerbated if the artists perform a culturally unique genre that is yet to be known to the masses. She believes in cultural diversity and equal opportunity for all art forms, and she is enthused about supporting talented local and visiting guest artists from all around the world to provide local audiences with diverse music programs in high-quality, live performances. She organizes live tango music performances in the Bay Area through Golden Gate Int’l Artists. If you are interested in supporting local and international artists, please subscribe to www.ggiartists.com and join for upcoming tango concerts.


    Her other interests include education, technology, women and children's welfare, psychology, flower arrangement, art, travel, language, cooking, hiking, etc...


    She is currently serving the non-profit organization Music Teachers' Association of California (MTAC), San Francisco as a board of directors for the local community of music teachers and students.


    Please kindly email me with your inquiry and follow me on social media for the upcoming concerts.

  • Upcoming concerts: Click here.

    Past Concerts

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    Piazzolla music and contemporary tango music
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    Inaguration concert for Tango concert series in Halfmoon bay

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    San Francisco International Arts Festival 2023 @Brava theater, Mission

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    Las Almas East coast tour April 2023

    Contemporary tango concerts with new compositions, commissioned pieces for the Bandoneon & Piano duo.

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    World Folk Music
    4/1/23 @The center SF
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    Contemporary tango concert

    at various bay area venues


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    Duo concert with Basma Andrees @Redpoppy art house

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    Presenting contemporary tango for the Violin, piano and vocal works & Folklore Zamba pieces.

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    Contemporary tango and folklore will be presented for the concert. Also, traditional tango music will be played for the dancers.

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    10 world music groups will present the mega concert, Oakland

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    Pre-concert talk, educational presentations, and contemporary tango works in Wine country

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    Contemporary concert works with short educational presentation, SF

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    HouseTango -Community Milonga 10/23/22

    Alameda Elk's Lodge. Contemporary tango work will be presented to listen and traditional tango music will be for dancing.

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    Bring your tango shoes to dance to the traditional tango music by Las Almas.

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    Dance performance by: Lisette Perelle & Rodolfo Saile

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    3 bandoneonists, string players and Pianist. Concert and milonga live music.

    Bring your tango shoes to dance to the traditional tango music by Las Almas.

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    San Francisco International Arts Festival 2021 @Eucalyptus Grove Lawn, Fort Maso, SF

  • Media


    Sumi Lee Quartet

    Opening act for 2023 flower piano festival, Sept 7, 2023.

    Golden Gate Park, SF

    Las Almas, women in tango.

    Live concert excerpt. @Red poppy art house, SF 4/9/23

    Los Mareados played by Humberto Ridolfi & Sumi Lee, Nov, 2022

    Las Almas Concert @Columbia University, St. Paul's chapel, Feb 2022
    Solidaridad tango plays "Entrador" by Mario Demarco in the style of Alfredo Gobbi

    Solidaridad tango plays "Milonguero Viejo" By Carlos Di Sarli 2022

    “La Maleva” by Víctor Lavallén

    TV program “La Hora del Tango” on April 14, 2019 @Centro cultural Kirchner, Buenos Aires

    Corazón Tango plays "La Muerte del Ángel" by Astor Piazzolla.

    Managed by Golden Gate Int’l Artists www.ggiartists.com

    SF, CA. Oct, 2019

    Corazón Tango plays "Revirado" by Piazzolla.

    Managed by Golden Gate Int’l Artists www.ggiartists.com

    SF, CA. Oct, 2019

    "EClipse" by Maestro Osvaldo Piro graduation concert of La Orquesta Escuela de Tango, Emilio Balcarce.

    Nov 15, 2018. Teatro San Martin

    Último Tango en Buenos Aires

    by Rubén Juárez, arrangement by Ramiro Boero

    Forte house, sf, ca Feb 2019

    Cuando caigan las hojas de Emilio Balcarce

    Mundial tango festival 2018

    Si sos brujo de Emilio Balcarce

    Mundial tango festival 2018

    Zamba de Usted by Ariel Ramirez / Feliz Luna, arranged by Carlos Garcia & played by Sumi Feb 2018

    L'isle joyeuse "The Joyful Island" by Debussy

    Live recording @San Francisco Conservatory of Music 2005

    La Yumba, Pugliese

    PROMO VIDEO, 2017

    "A la Orquesta Escuela de Tango" de Emilio Balcarce

    Mundial tango festival 2018

    Aquellos Tangos camperos

    by horacio salgan

    La Bordona, de Emilio Balcarce

    Usina del arte

    Bailar contigo

    by Pablo Estigarribia


    Jazz Fantasy by MOZART - BY fazil Say

    Grillito, de Horacio Salgán

    Usina del arte, 2017

    Danzarin de Julián Plaza, de Aníbal Troilo

    Jorge Luis Borges de la Biblioteca Nacional

    Melancolico buenos aires de Astor Piazzolla

    Usina del arte 2017

    La cumparsita de juan d'arienzo

    Mundial, Tango festival 2017 at usina del arte, Buenos Aires

    La Maleva de Victor lavallen

    Jorge Luis Borges de la Biblioteca Nacional

    Cuidado conlos 50 de Carlos di Sarli


    El Abrojito, de Victor lavallén,

    Centro Cultural Kirchner

    Si sos brujo de Emilio Balcarce

    USINA DEL ARTE, Buenos Aires

    Chopin Ballade No. 1 Op. 23

    Live recording Recital

    SF Conservatory of Music

    Live recording, San Francisco Conservatory of Music 2005

    1st movement, Beethoven piano sonata, Tempest
    2nd movement, Beethoven piano sonata, Tempest
    3rd movement, Beethoven piano sonata, Tempest
    La Orquesta de tango, Emilio Balcarce
    Segment from Mundial, tango festival 2017
  • Concerts

    Upcoming & past concerts

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    Sat, 4pm PST. Oct , 24 2020 @Fort Mason

    San Francisco, California

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    Friday 8pm PST.

    June 19, 2020

    Youtube live, San Francisco

    April & May 2020

    San Francisco, California

    Upcoming livestream concert: Every saturday evening 4/25, 5/2,

    Alone Together Livestream concert every Saturday evening at 9pm PST. Join me @Zoom (ID: 812 3231 1230) or Facebook live via Sumi Lee -pianist Instagram @sfsumi

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    Canceled-Community Milonga

    Elks lodge, Alameda, CA

    May 31, 2019

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    Canceled -SFIAF May 23, 2020

    Fort Mason, SF CA

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    December 2019

    SF Bay Area

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    October 2019

    South Korea

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    September 2019

    SF Bay Area

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    August 2019

    SF Bay Area

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    Feb 2019

    SF Bay Area

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    Nov 2018

    Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • Press

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    Featured in DGEART Magazine, Buenos Aires, 2017

    A sentence or two describing this item.

  • Lessons

    I was studying at Conservatory, I realized and appreciated the importance of cultivating and establishing fundamental skills while a strong passion to learn exist. Accordingly, I make myself readily available to my students to foster their queries. Since I have a strong classical training background, I focus on Classical piano technique and ear training at the time, Upon request, I also teach different styles of music such as new age music, Broadway, Hymns, and Pop.

    My teaching concentrates on music theory, sight-reading, music history, and techniques: Reading, fingering, pedaling, notation, chords, harmony, scales, rhythm, improvisation, performing the technique, how and what to practice to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome. Students typically work in a method textbook alongside repertoire. Each method will vary based on the student's goals and abilities.


    • WhileAbout the lessons
    1. Beginner students start with learning note names, rhythms, and basic music terminology, theory, good posture for playing the piano, and more.
    2. Advanced students will work toward improving their technique through scale work, fingering & rhythm exercises, touch, pedaling, and exposure to a wide variety of piano literature.

    *you must have regular access to a piano or keyboard.


    • What results to expect

    Much of what will come from your study of a piano depends on you.

    Don't expect to learn to play overnight. A thing of as you are learning a second language. It will take time and dedication. To really become a proficient pianist you must be able and willing to set aside time each day and week for practice between lessons. This means

    If you don’t, there is little point in studying the piano. Becoming a brilliant pianist rarely happens overnight. However, if you practice regularly and follow the instructions I provide you will improve regardless of your current level and learn to play the music you never thought you could play before. Just remember that it takes time and work.

    I believe that all students have a seed of ability. With a good method, a dedicated teacher, and a big desire, that seed can grow into talent and accomplishment that can be very rewarding and even superior. While some students may learn more quickly than others, it is more important than we are concerned with the individual feelings of accomplishment. Therefore, students and parents must be careful about the expectations they have for their children or themselves. You may not see progress instantly or consistently, but if there is a sincere effort, encouraging, praising environment, there will be a great reward. Music education and exposure to music make life fuller and richer.


    • 2023 lesson fee at my piano studio in SF & live Zoom classes.

    30min: $75

    45min: $100

    60min: $120

    Sample video of student's performance

    16 yr old student playing plays Novelette in B flat minor No. 2 - Francis Poulenc. 2016 MTAC-SF Certificate of Merit Honor recital @ Knuth Hall, San Francisco State University

    15 yr old student playing Impromptu Op.90 No.4 by Schubert @ MTAC-SF Certificate of Merit Honor recital 2015 @SFSU

    12 yr old playing Prelude No.3 from Six short preludes - Bach @ Steinway piano hall, SF 2016

    12 yr old student playing 12yo playing Romanian Folk dances (Stick dance) Béla Bartók (1881-1945) @ Steinway piano hall, SF 2016

    11 yr old playing Waltz in A minor (Op. Posthumous) - Chopin

    2016 MTAC-SF Honor Certificate of Merit recital @ Knuth Hall, San Francisco State University

    10 yo student playing Sonatina in G major by Diabelli@Steinway piano hall, SF

    10 yo student playing The little white donkey- Jacques Ibert @Steinway piano hall, SF

    10 yr old student Sorocaba - Darius Milhaud @MTAC-SF Certificate of Merit Honor recital 2016 @SFSU

    10 yr old student playing Sonatina in C major (Op. 55, No.1) Vivace - Kuhlau @ MTAC-SF Certificate of Merit Honor recital 2015 @SFSU

    9 yr old student playing Sonatina in C major (Op. 36, No.1) Allegro by Clementi @ MTAC-SF Certificate of Merit Honor recital 2015 @SFSU

    9 yr old student playing Minuet in G major by Bach & Ballade Opus 100, No. 15 By Burgmuller @ Steinway piano hall, SF

    Noelle 7 yo & Noah P 6 yo - Arirang duet 4 hands, 2012 @Steinway piano hall, SF



    7 year old student playing,


    Evening in the country No.5 - Bartok,
    Invention No 1 in C major BWV 772 - Bach

    10 year old student

    Adult student playing Impromptu Op. 90 No. 2 by Schubert

  • Contact

    Interested in taking lessons, booking, collaborating, want to receive news letters? Please drop me a line or following me on social medial below.

    San Francisco, CA