Skip to main content
Four participants in the 2021 Composing women program

Composing women

Nurturing creativity in our composition students
Enabling four postgraduate students to work closely with industry partners such as the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra to develop their compositional work and professional skills.

About the program 

Sydney Conservatorium of Music offers a program of professional development aimed at fostering and empowering women composers. It runs over two years, with an intake every second year.

We workshop and perform participants' compositions, working intensively as a group and with each artist over two years. Compositions developed will form part or all of each participant's portfolio for her degree.

Participants who are not already in receipt of a postgraduate scholarship will also receive a Sydney Conservatorium of Music scholarship of $10,000 a year.

Established to mark the centenary of the Conservatorium, participants in the inaugural program in 2016-2017 worked with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, the Goldner String Quartet and percussionist Claire Edwardes

In 2018-19, our partners were: Sydney Symphony OrchestraSydney Chamber Opera with NIDA, and flute soloist Claire Chase. Our association with this artist and organisations is ongoing.

The 2020-2021 program 

We are offering four places to women postgraduate research students at the Conservatorium who are enrolled in the Master of Music (Composition) or Doctor of Musical Arts. Our partner organisations are the Sydney Dance Company, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. There are also opportunities to develop your own independent projects.

Participants will be mentored by Professor Liza Lim as well as members of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s composition unit. We also provide mentoring in production and administrative skills throughout the program through Musica Viva Australia, APRA AMCOS, the Australian Music Centre and ABC Classic FM.  

This program is made possible through the generous assistance of our partners and through the Patrons of the Composing Women Program.

2020-21 Composing Women:

Portrait of May Lyon

May Lyon

May Lyon’s stylistically eclectic music explores humanistic themes from astronomy and lore to mathematics. Lyon has been commissioned and performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, National Capital Orchestra, Forest Collective, Ensemble Goldentree and Syzygy Ensemble. Lyon’s first opera Pieces of Margery premieres with More Than Opera in July 2020.

Portrait of Jane Sheldon

Jane Sheldon

Jane Sheldon is an Australian-American soprano and composer. Described as“riveting”(New York Times), her music focuses on the body in altered or transformative states. She has established an international reputation for contemporary opera and art music performance and has appeared at international arts festivals across the globe.

Portrait of Brenda Gifford

Brenda Gifford

Brenda Gifford is a composer and Yuin woman whose culture is the basis of her arts practice. She has been commissioned by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Canberra International Music Festival, Four Winds Festival, and is Resident Composer with Ensemble Offspring. Her ARIA nominated album“Music for the Dreaming”is available on ABC Classics.

Portrait of Fiona Hill

Fiona Hill

Fiona Hill is a composer specialising in electroacoustics and immersive sound. Described as having “powerful emotional impact” (The Advertiser), she often explores the dichotomy between the natural and industrial worlds, attempting to find the beauty and resilience of the human psyche where worlds collide.

About the experience

Headshot of Elizabeth Younan, Composing Women participant
Elizabeth Younan, 2016-17 participant
"I loved that we could work with performers and hear our works being performed, it is crucial to the learning process."