"I wish to write perfectly imperfect music. I believe in composing music that reflects the time in which I live, but also shares insight into myself as a human being. Each work must begin from deep within and therefore build on a foundation of feeling and connectedness – encompassing both heart and head, a poetically human endeavour.
Life, to me, is what happens in the grey and in-between, and it is what happens in the space separating these states that fascinate and captures my imagination when writing music."
- Lisa Cheney
Dr. Lisa Cheney (she/her) is a classically trained composer of acoustic and acousmatic music, working on Turrbal lands in Brisbane, Australia. Her music communicates through varied styles, which often reflect a fascination with seeking the “dirty-beautiful” through exploration of shadows, impermanence, ambiguity, expression, poeticism, fragility, delicacy, resonant space, pacing, light and dark and atmospheric soundscapes. Cheney's work has been described as 'atmospheres of unfathomable spaciousness' (Partial Durations), 'melodic slivers with plaintive intensity' (The Australian) and 'fantastic and frightening in its detail and colour' (Resonate). Her body of work incorporates orchestra, chamber, voice, acousmatic collaborations, arrangements and works for theatre and ballet.
Cheney has received several accolades, including grants from the Australia-Korea Foundation, the 2017 Art Music Fund, the Griffith University Owen Fletcher Postgraduate Award, the Silver Harris and Jeff Peck Composition Prize, 2019 Dorian Le Gallienne Composition Award, and was a finalist for Instrumental Work of the Year at the 2018 Art Music Awards for her cello work When We Speak. Her music has been commissioned and performed by The Southern Cross Soloists, The Australian Voices, Queensland Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra, Plexus, Syzygy, Sydney Antiphony, flautist Jonathan Henderson, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Ballet amongst others.
Cheney holds a Bachelor of Music in Composition and Master of Music from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music where she studied with Gerard Brophy and Dr. Gerardo Dirie respectively. She recently completed a PhD in Music at The University of Melbourne, supervised by Dr. Elliott Gyger and Dr. Linda Kouvaras where she was awarded the 2023 Conservatorium Director’s Award for Exceptional Doctoral Research.
2015 saw the commencement of a collaboration with Sydney-based composer Peggy Polias on Making Waves, an online listening project and podcast focusing on early-career Australian composers. In 2017 she was named Victorian Young Achiever of the Year for the Arts and was a recipient of the APRA AMCOS Art Music Fund to write a new opera for children based on Edward Lear’s nonsense poem, The Owl and the Pussycat. The opera premiered at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and was a finalist for Best Composition at the 2018 Matilda Awards.
Recent works include: Before You (2021), for bass recorder player Alicia Crossley, Heavenly Bodies (2021) for flutist Jonathan Henderson and pianist, Alex Ranieri and Tear it Down, Build it Up (2022) for the Last Seen Project with the Queensland Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra. Cheney is an Associate Represented Artist with the Australian Music Centre.
Current to September 2023