Lisa Cheney


Lisa Cheney is an Australian composer from Queensland, now resident in Melbourne. She completed her undergraduate and Masters degrees at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music (QCGU) with Gerard Brophy and Gerardo Dirie and was awarded the 2014 Silver Harris and Jeff Peck Prize for Composition. Lisa has participated in the Atlantic Music Festival, Australian Youth Orchestra National Music Camp, Brevard Music Centre Institute Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Cybec 21ST Century Composers’ Program and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra’s Composers’ School. Her music has been performed by The Southern Cross Soloists, The Australian Voices, The Queensland Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra, Plexus, The Sydney Antiphony, The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and The Australian Ballet amongst others.

As part of her Master of Music research she wrote papers exploring the experiences of other early-career female composers in Australia. As an outcome of this research, Lisa currently runs the facebook group ‘Women in Composition’ and the twitter channel ‘Women Composers’ designed to support and promote the work of her female colleagues worldwide. In addition, she enjoys supporting the careers of other emerging composers and artists as a Co-Director and Co-Curator of ‘Making Waves’. Lisa is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne under composer, Elliott Gyger.

Composer website:


A Bridge Between, for oboe, violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano.

“Growing up I spent most of my time with my nose in a fiction novel. It wasn’t unusual for me to sneak a book along when we went out to dinner as a family or to be reading on the way to and from school. I am still passionate about fictional stories and love the way in which an author can conjure such vivid magical lands and images that can capture, inspire and challenge my imagination. As I grew I began to experiment through sounds, rather than words, and began to find my own unique ways to create sound-worlds that could capture the imagination (just like the books I loved so much). ‘A Bridge Between’ represents the middle ground between two such creative worlds. Rather than describing the worlds that I imagined, I ask the listener to use their imaginations to ponder where this music might be coming from and going to. After all, I have always found that what happens in the bridging units, in that magical space somewhere in the middle, to be the most captivating and rewarding.”

Featured in Playlist 6: Meditative Waves 30/06/15

Elegy, for baritone saxophone and string quartet.

“At its core this work is an Elegy for a love lost. However, it is also a joyous revelling in the extreme dexterity, range and emotional power of the Baritone Saxophone. Raw, beautiful and intense with a climatic improvised passage, this is a work that I will always regard as one I felt I really ‘needed’ to express at the time.”

Featured in Playlist 1: Chamber Waves 31/01/15

When We Speak, for solo cello and electroacoustic track.

“When We Speak for solo cello and electroacoustic track. The work was premiered at the This Will Be Our Reply concert, International Women’s Day concert at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, Melba Hall in 2o16.

When We Speak seeks to comment on broader issues surrounding gender inequality and these considerations on my compositional practice.  Throughout the work the interweaving of many ‘voices’ is present in: my own musical language, the music and speech of influential Finnish composer, Kaija Saariaho, the expression of the live cellist and her own literal voice in places. This, at times semi-improvised cello part, weaves its way through an atmospheric soundscape derived from a recent public interview with Saariaho. The accompanying recorded musical sounds are extracted and manipulated from Saariaho’s own compositions. What links all of these wonderfully musical and powerful elements together conceptually is that the manipulated musical sounds stem largely from a pre-recorded performance of Gemma Tomlinson playing  Saariaho’s Sept Papillons for solo cello. Much like the fragile ecosystem of that connects each of us in society, in this work invisible individual threads connect each ‘voice’ to make one musical whole.

Featured in Spoken Waves September 2016

Drought, for SSAATTBB Choir.

In ‘Drought’, Cheney sets the poem of the same name by the late Brisbane poet, Judith Wright to music for SSAATTBB voices. The music, text and voices work together to sculpt beautiful, haunting soundscapes and images of an ever-changing Australian landscape, perched beneath an unforgiving sun.

Featured in Landscape Waves, February 2018