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Lisa Illean : Associate Artist


Photo of Lisa Illean

Photo: Catherine Pyle

Lisa Illean is an Australian composer of acoustic and acousmatic music, based in London. Her music has been described as "exquisitely quiet shadows shaded with microtunings" (The Sydney Morning Herald) and "a compelling exercise in stillness and quietude" (The Australian). Works span pieces written for orchestra to those commissioned for new, prepared or adapted instruments, and sound works conceived for unique spaces.

"The music is long-lined… and its spare layering seemingly simple but quietly gripping in its yield of resonant, sometimes microtonal complexities."- Keith Gallasch, RealTime Arts

"a slowly-evolving study of microtones … creating an undergrowth of sound, deeply considered texture and subtly accumulating tension…"-Classical Source

"Illean's is a distinctive and original new voice in the landscape and her work was realised here by the SSO with tender care." - The Sydney Morning Herald

Listen here

Her ensemble works have been performed internationally in venues ranging from Royal Festival Hall toCarriageworks' industrial bays and Cafe Oto. She has recently worked with BBC, Sydney and Melbourne symphony orchestras, London Philharmonic Orchestra, members of the Philharmonia Orchestra, Ensemble Offspring and Explore Ensemble, and has made site-specific sound pieces for the Arts Centre, Melbourne, and the Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver.

Lisa is completing doctoral research at the Royal College of Music as a Soiree d'Or scholar, where she is also supported by a Rae and Edith Bennett fellowship. This arose out of her work with non-tempered tuning systems, and her compositions paying close attention to sonority, subtly unfolding harmonic forms, auditory phenomena and perspective (for which she was awarded the RCM's Cobbett & Hurlstone prize for outstanding creative achievement).

Recent work has been made with the generous assistance of the APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund and the Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS Composition Prize 2016). Supported by Australia Council for the Arts, she is currently creating a set of intimate pieces for voice (soprano Juliet Fraser) and pre-recorded sound titled A through-grown earth.


Lisa Illean — current to June 2018

Teacher/Influence on

Chris Williams

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for
2018 Art Music Awards: Work of the Year: Instrumental Winner Cantor (after Willa Cather)

Selected Commissions

  Work Commission Details
Rose (clarinet with chamber orchestra) Commissioned by London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Sleeplessness ... Sails : mezzo-soprano voice with piano (2018) Commissioned by the BBC for the 2018 Proms Chamber series at Cadogan Hall
Further In Summer : orchestra (2017) Monash University Ed Byrne Commission
Cantor (after Willa Cather) : soprano with ensemble (2017) The creation of 'Cantor' was generously supported by the 2016 APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund
Cranes : viola solo (2017) Commissioned by Phoebe Green.
Land's End : orchestra (2015) Commissioned by Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Analysis & Media

- Video: Cantor, by Lisa Ilean, after texts by Willa Cather