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*30 Aug 1966 Perth / Australia
Internationally acclaimed composer Liza Lim 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 premiered at the Brisbane and Melbourne Festivals in 2008. In 2009, the opera has further performances in Moscow and Paris.
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.
Lim’s collaborations with Chinese, Japanese and Korean musicians inform her interest in kinaesthetic approaches to performance whereby the physicality of gesture is interrogated as the basis for formulating new approaches to instrumental technique and listening culture. Key publications (Ricordi, Milan & London) in this area include Koto (1993), The Alchemical Wedding (1996) and three important commissions from the Festival d’Automne Paris, In the Shadow’s Light (2004), The Quickening (2005) and Mother Tongue (2005).
More recently, her explorations of Australian Aboriginal culture, through research and collaborations with Indigenous artist Judy Watson (Glass House Mountains installation project, 2005, Queensland Music Festival) and with Yolngu women elders of the Gumatj clan from Yirrkala, in her role as curator of the music series ‘As Night Softly Falls’ for the 2006 Adelaide Festival, has led her to look at aspects of Indigenous aesthetics and non-western epistemologies of time and space in art, music and story-telling. Key publications include the conference paper ‘A Hidden Centre’ (2006, Edith Cowan University, keynote for 2005 TURA new music conference) and compositions (all Ricordi London), Songs found in dream (2005, Salzburg Festival commission with extensive performances including Spain, Berlin, Melbourne, LA, Warsaw, Singapore, Cologne), Shimmer Songs (2006, Fromm Foundation Commission, San Francisco Contemporary Music players) and The Compass (2006, Sydney Symphony 2006 season and 2008 Italian tour, also performed by orchestras in Munich, Venice, Paris).
She was awarded a Senior Composers Fellowship from the Ian Potter Cultural Trust in 2007 for a project investigating aspects of Aboriginal cultural economy focussed on Riji Jakoli (carved, orchred pearl shells from the Broome/Kimberley region) as the basis for chamber music and orchestral compositions. This has resulted in the publication (Ricordi London) of Ochred String (2008, also released on NEOS CDs with performances in Munich, Berlin, Melbourne and subject of a documentary by Festival d’Automne and Pandore tv for Arte), Invisibility (2009, performances in Huddersfield, London, Paris, Darmstadt) and Pearl, Ochre, Hair String (2009-10, performances in Munich July 2010 and Perth Nov 2010) as well as the journal article ‘Investigating an aesthetics of presence’ (2009).
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