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Liza Lim : Represented Artist

Internationally acclaimed composer Liza Lim writes music marked by visceral energy and vibrant colour.

Random Audio Sample: Inguz : fertility : for clarinet in A and violoncello by Liza Lim, from the CD heart's ear


Photo of Liza Lim

Photo: Bridget Elliot

Liza Lim (b.1966, Australia) writes music marked by visceral energy and vibrant colour and often explores ritual forms and performance aesthetics from Asian and Australian Aboriginal cultural sources. Some recurring themes in her work include 'hiddenness and revelation', 'violence and meditation' and ecstatic transformation.

Lim's music, which ranges from operatic and orchestral scores to site-specific installations, has been performed by some of the world's pre-eminent ensembles. Notably, she was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic to write the orchestral work, Ecstatic Architecture, to celebrate the inaugural season of the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2004. She was composer-in-residence with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2005-07. She has received major commissions from organisations such as the Bavarian Radio and SWR Orchestras, Ensemble Musikfabrik & Holland Festival, Ensemble Contrechamps, Klangforum Wien, Ensemble InterContemporain, Ensemble Modern, ELISION, the Arditti String Quartet, Salzburg Festival, Lucerne Festival, Festival d'Automne à Paris, WDR Orchestra & Choir and BBC Symphony as well as the Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth Festivals. She has recently completed her fourth opera Tree of Codes, commissioned by Ensemble Musikfabrik, Cologne Opera and Hellerau - European Centre for the Arts. The opera will be premiered in April 2016.

Lim has been closely associated with the Australian ELISION Ensemble for over 25 years, with projects including three operas: The Oresteia (1993), Moon Spirit Feasting (1999) and The Navigator (2008), performed in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Tokyo, Moscow, Paris, Zurich and Berlin. During the mid-late 1990s and again in 2007-08 she worked extensively on collaborative site-specific projects and extreme duration work (eg: all night/7 day or Spring-Autumn solstice) with artists such as Domenico de Clario, Judith Wright, Judy Watson (Australia) and, Sabrina Hölzer and Volker Maerz (Berlin) exploring subjects ranging from the Tibetan Book of the Dead to elements of the Chinese I Ching and Indigenous stories and mapping knowledge around the volcanic Glasshouse Mountains in Queensland.

She connects her compositional practice to areas of thought and knowledge such as Australian Indigenous aesthetics (eg: Invisibility for solo 'cello); Asian ritual forms & performance practices (Moon Spirit Feasting, a Chinese ritual street opera); a Sufi poetics of bewilderment, loss, communion and ecstasy (Tongue of the Invisible); the textilic arts of weaving and knot-making as a cross-modal 'technology for thinking' (Winding Bodies: 3 knots), as well as empathy and intuition in an ecology of collaboration.

An important strand of her work has also been curation and research, for instance, she curated the music program 'As Night Softly Falls' for the 2006 Adelaide International Festival of the Arts with music that celebrates 'the changing of the light' (an eclectic program of music from South Indian, Sufi and Yolgnu traditions as well as songs from 1920s Shanghai and contemporary chamber music). Awards include the Paul Lowin Prize, DAAD Artist-in-residence Berlin 2007-08, Australia Council and Ian Potter Foundation Senior Fellowships. She was appointed a member of the Akademie der Künste der Welt Cologne in 2012 and curated the music program for the opening 'Cutting Edge' festival.

Since 2008, Liza Lim is Professor of Composition and Director of the Centre for Research in New Music at the University of Huddersfield. Her compositions have been published by Casa Ricordi (Milano, London & Berlin) since 1989 with a catalogue of over 65 works. She has portrait CDs with Hat Hut, WERGO, ABC-Classics and Dischi Ricordi with other work appearing on HCR, Neos, Aeon and Vox Australis labels.


Biography provided by the composer — current to 2015

Teacher/Influence on

David Young (1991)

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Axis mundi : bassoon solo (2012) Commissioned by Ensemble musikFabrik through Kunststiftung NRW
Tongue of the invisible : baritone voice with chamber ensemble (2011) Commissioned by the Holland Festival, musikFabrik and Kunststiftung NRW
The Guest (recorder with full orchestra) (2010) Commissioned by Armin Koehler for Donaueschinger Musiktage
Invisibility : cello solo (2009) Written as part of the Ian Potter Cultural Trust Fellowship
Pearl, ochre, hair string : for orchestra (2009) Commissioned by West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks.
The four seasons : (after Cy Twombly) (2009) Written for and dedicated to Marilyn Nonken. ‘Summer (Sema)’ celebrates the birth of Marilyn’s daughter Goldie Celeste in November 2008.

Analysis & Media

Book: Women of note : the rise of Australian women composers / Rosalind Appleby.

DVD: Pearl, ochre, hair string / Liza Lim.

Book: Earth dances : music in search of the primitive / Andrew Ford.

- Article: Lim's pulse of life

- Document: Liza Lim

- Video: Invisibility by Liza Lim

- Video: Liza Lim's "Songs found in dream" (2005) performed by ELISION ensemble

- Article: Staging an Aesthetics of Presence
Liza Lim discusses shimmer and time.

- Article: ELISION: transference — Liza Lim
by Jennie Gottschalk
Liza Lim in an interview about shimmer.

- Article: Distributed Creativity and Ecological Dynamics: A Case Study of Liza Lim’s ‘Tongue of the Invisible’
by Eric Clarke, Mark Doffman, and Liza Lim; Oxford University, University of Huddersfield. © OUP
Music and Letters, OUP (Pay per view)
This essay addresses distributed creative processes in the preparation and performance of a new musical work—Tongue of the Invisible by Liza Lim, commissioned by the Cologne-based Ensemble musikFabrik. Situating the research within a broadly ecological perspective, and in the specific context of the interface between composition, improvisation, and performance, the study offers a social and distributed understanding of creative production.

- Video: Rug music by Liza Lim: Liza and Marshall McGuire in conversation