'music that seeps into your consciousness' ABC Classic FM (Stephen Adams)
Lisa Illean is a composer of acoustic and acousmatic music, based in the U.K. 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).
Illean’s work spans pieces written for orchestra to those commissioned for new, prepared or adapted instruments, and sound works conceived for unique spaces. This has led to her working with the BBC, Sydney and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, The Philharmonia and London Philharmonic Orchestra, and conductors and soloists including Juliet Fraser, David Robertson, and Brett Dean. Her music has been presented around the globe, including at Festival Présences (Paris), Taiwan International Festival of Arts, BBC Proms, Unerhörte Musik (Berlin), Angelica Festival (Bologna), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Extended Play (Sydney) and Metropolis New Music Festival (Melbourne), and in venues ranging from Elbphilharmonie (Hamburg) to the industrial bays of Sydney’s Carriageworks and London’s Café Oto.
Many of Illean’s compositions arise out of working with non-tempered tuning systems, playing close attention to sonority, subtly unfolding harmonic forms, auditory phenomena and perspective. In recent years she has oriented her practice as a composer to include making long-form pieces with both performed and pre-recorded material, in close development with one or two others. This process incorporates unadorned, ‘everyday’ instruments—often simply-made zithers; exploring visual analogies and tactile ways of sketching. Premiered in 2017 by members of the Philharmonia, Januaries for ensemble has since been programmed by six other ensembles in the UK, US and Australia. Land’s End, premiered by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and David Robertson, has been taken up by both the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the orchestra of the Australian National Academy of Music. Cantor for soprano and ensemble was named Instrumental Work of the Year at the 2018 Australian Art Music Awards. She has also made a number of pieces for voice including A through-grown earth (2018) for Juliet Fraser and Sleeplessness… Sails (2018) for Sarah Connolly.
This autumn new pieces will be presented at Donaueschinger Musiktage (Trio Accanto/Experimentalstudio des SWR), Transit Festival and November Music (Juliet Fraser/Explore Ensemble). Autumn performances are also scheduled with Ensemble 10/10, London Sinfonietta, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Juliet Fraser, and musicians at the Royal Academy of Music, where Lisa is composer-in-residence for the academic year 2021-22, alongside teaching at the University of Cambridge.