Liza Lim joins the University of Sydney to nurture women composers

Liza Lim, photo R. Buckley 250 250

Professor Liza Lim

The highly-acclaimed Australian composer Liza Lim, one of the leading figures of her generation internationally, joins the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music to mentor and grow the reputation of women composers in this country.

Liza Lim has been commissioned by some of the world’s pre-eminent orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, BBC Symphony, and Germany’s WestdeutscherRundfunk and SudwestRundfunk orchestras, and was composer-in-residence with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra from 2005 to 2007.

University of Sydney’s Professor Anna Reid, Head of School and Dean at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, says Professor Liza Lim’s appointment is a huge gain for staff and students.

“We are honoured to have a composer of Liza’s calibre and international status joining our staff and composition department to grow the prominence of women composers in Australia. We have much to learn from her experience and talent,” said Professor Anna Reid.

Professor Liza Lim will work alongside a renowned team of Australian composers including Professor Matthew Hindson AM, Carl Vine AO and Dr Paul Stanhope, and will help develop the next edition of the national women composers’ development program set up at the Con last year.

“I’m very excited to be part of one of the most dynamic composition teams in Australia. I am particularly looking forward to working with students participating in the Sydney Conservatorium’s unique development program for women composers,” said Professor Liza Lim.

Born in Perth to Chinese parents, Liza Lim went to high school in Melbourne at Presbyterian Ladies College where as a young pianist and violinist she was encouraged by teachers to do composition. She completed a Bachelor of Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts and a Master of Music at the University of Melbourne, followed by a Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Queensland.

She has spent the last nine years working overseas undertaking teaching and research roles in Europe, the USA and Asia, in between endless commissions. Since 2008 she has worked at the University of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in the UK as Professor of Composition and Director of the Centre for Research in New Music (CeReNeM), where she built up the highly regarded postgraduate program in new music internationally.

Research into cross-cultural practice in music is at the heart of Lim’s compositional work seen by her extensive catalogue with Italian publishing house Casa Ricordi (Milan, London and Berlin) and recordings with Hathut, WERGO, ABC Classics, Neos, and Winter & Winter.

The New Yorker magazine’s music critic Alex Ross wrote in 2014: ‘[Liza Lim] holds a commanding position in international music; her intricately sensuous scores welcomed both at the Los Angeles Philharmonic and at German new-music festivals. Yet she shows an acute sensitivity to the local and particular; to voices on the margins of a smoothly integrated global culture’.

Professor Lim’s appointment at the University of Sydney represents her first major academic role in Australia. She joins another two new composition appointments, digital music experts Dr Benjamin Carey and Dr Daniel Blinkhorn, as well as Dr Jade O’Regan who will teach in the new contemporary music program launched by the Con in 2016.

Dr Damien Ricketson, Program Leader for the Bachelor of Music (Composition and Music Technology) at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, commented: “Professor Lim, Dr Blinkhorn and Dr Carey will enrich the depth and diversity of composition at the Con. Collectively, they bring a whole new level of knowledge and expertise, particularly in the areas of cross-cultural practice, digital and electronic music, and recording and interactive music design.”

More about Professor Liza Lim
Since 2008 Liza Lim has been working at the University of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in the UK as Professor of Composition and Director of the Centre for Research in New Music (CeReNeM) and continues the role part-time. She has taught at international summer schools in Darmstadt, Germany and Royaumont, France and at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and in 2017 is a Visiting Professor in Composition at Shanghai Conservatory.

Her compositions have featured at numerous international festivals and biennales: from the Festival d’Automne à Paris and Holland Festival, to the Venice Biennale and Tage für neue musik Zürich, in addition to several commissions of operas and installations in Australian festivals. Liza Lim has collaborated closely with several ensembles including Australia’s contemporary classical chamber group, ELISION Ensemble, since 1986. She composed three operas: The Oresteia (1993), Moon Spirit Feasting (1999) and The Navigator (2008) that the ELISION Ensemble performed for nine seasons across major capitals cities in Australia, Japan and Europe. Her fourth and latest opera, Tree of Codes (2015), commissioned and presented by Cologne Opera, Musikfabrik and Hellerau in Germany, was described in 2016 as “a major contribution to the music theatre of our time” by German music critic, Egbert Hiller.