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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: Songs found in dream : for oboe, clarinet/bass clarinet, alto sax, trumpet, 2 percussion, violincello, double bass by Liza Lim, from the CD Transference


Photo of Liza Lim

Photo: Bridget Elliot

Internationally acclaimed composer Liza Lim (b. 1966, Perth, Australia) writes music marked by visceral energy and vibrant colour. A recurring thread in her work is the exploration of the themes of crossing cultural boundaries and of ecstatic transformation. Her music brings together aspects of modernist abstraction with forms of ritual culture drawn from a variety of sources. She counterpoints seemingly opposed pairs of terms such as 'radiance and shadow', 'violence and meditation' to describe her musical language.

Her 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. More recently she has received major commissions from both the Bavarian and South West German Radio Orchestras and was awarded Australian Major Festivals funding for her opera The Navigator which premieres at the Brisbane and Melbourne Festivals in 2008.

She has been closely associated with the Australian ELISION Ensemble over twenty years, and they have produced some of her larger scale works. These include her chamber operas, the 'memory theatre', The Oresteia (1991-93) , the Chinese ritual street opera, Moon Spirit Feasting (1997-99) and The Navigator (2007). She was composer-in-residence with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2005-06. She has also had rich artistic relationships with the Ensemble Intercontemporain (commissions in 1992, 1999, 2000, 2005), Bavarian Radio Orchestra (2006, 2008, 2010) and ensemble für neue musik Zurich.

Recent achievements include features during Maerzmusik Berliner festspiele 2008, Venice Biennale 2007, at the Festival d'Automne à Paris 2005 who commissioned three substantial works, and premieres at the Salzburg and Lucerne Festivals. Awards recognizing Lim's work include Australia's most prestigious composition prize, the Paul Lowin Award for orchestral composition, Fromm Foundation, Ian Potter Foundation and Australia Council Fellowships, and a DAAD Artist-in-residence grant to live and work in Berlin in 2007.

Lim earned her Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Queensland, her Master of Music from Melbourne University, and her Bachelor of Arts from the Victorian College of the Arts. She has studied composition with Richard David Hames, Riccardo Formosa, and Ton de Leeuw. She has been a guest lecturer at Darmstadt, the University of California San Diego & Berkeley, Cornell University, Getty Research Institute, major Australian universities and at IRCAM's Agora Festival. In 1991, she was a Lecturer of Composition at Melbourne University. She was the guest curator for the twilight concert series 'As Night Softly Falls' at the 2006 Adelaide Festival of the Arts.

Lim's music is published by Universal Music - Ricordi (Milano & London). Recordings of her music have been released on HatArt, ABC-Classics, Dischi Ricordi and Vox Australis.

In March 2008, Liza Lim was appointed Professor of Composition at the University of Huddersfield under the university's '20 Professors' initiative.


Biography provided by the composer — current to June 2008

Teacher/Influence on

David Young (1991)

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
The Guest (recorder with full orchestra) Commissioned by Donaueschinger Musiktage
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
Digital sheet music sample Pearl, ochre, hair string : for orchestra (2009) Commissioned by Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, West Australian Symphony Orchestra.
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.
Invisibility : cello solo (2009) Written as part of the Ian Potter Cultural Trust Fellowship

Analysis & Media

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

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

- 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.