Four participants in the 2021 Composing women program

Composing women

Nurturing creativity in our composition students

This ground-breaking program enabled postgraduate students to work closely with high-profile industry partners to develop their compositional work and professional skills.

About the program 

Established to mark the centenary of the Conservatorium, Sydney Conservatorium of Music offered a program of professional development aimed at fostering and empowering women composers. The program ran from 2016-2021, with a new intake every second year.

The program's focus was on developing the compositional work and professional skills of the participants. Their compositions were workshopped and performed, with intensive group and individual sessions over two years. The compositions went on to form part or all of each participant's portfolio for her degree.

In addition to this, participants who were not already in receipt of a postgraduate scholarship received a scholarship of $10,000 a year from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

The program gave students the opportunity to work with our high-profile industry partners including Sydney Symphony OrchestraSydney Chamber Opera with NIDA, Sydney Dance CompanyTasmanian Symphony OrchestraSydney Philharmonia Choirs, the Goldner String Quartet, percussionist Claire Edwardes and flute soloist Claire Chase.

Throughout the program, students received mentorship from Professor Liza Lim (2018-21) and Matthew Hindson (2016-17), in addition to members of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s composition unit. We also worked with organisations such Musica Viva AustraliaAPRA AMCOS, the Australian Music Centre and ABC Classic FM to provide participants with training in production and administrative skills.

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


Composing Women cohorts

Brenda Gifford, Fiona Hill, May Lyon and Jane Sheldon

Josephine Macken, Peggy Polias, Georgia Scott and Bree van Reyk

Clare Johnston, Ella Macens, Natalie Nicholas and Elizabeth Younans

More about Composing Women


Sydney Con leads gender equity shift in Australian music

Influential Composing Women program creates ripple effect in music industry

Sydney Conservatorium of Music's Composing Women program led by Professor Liza Lim has demonstrated leadership and influence in the push for gender equity in programming and commissioning works by female composers in classical and art music.