Nirmali Fenn

Humanities (Music)

Assistant Professor of Practice


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Dr Nirmali Fenn is a Sri Lankan-born Australian composer. She received her preliminary musical education in Australia at the Universities of New South Wales and Melbourne. With the support of the prestigious Clarendon Scholarship and an Overseas Research Students Award, she earned her doctorate at Oxford University, United Kingdom. Before working at Yale-NUS, she has been on the faculties of the University of Hong Kong, New York University and the University of New South Wales.

Dr Fenn’s music often involves a lot of theatre and she has collaborated with some of Asia’s most respected choreographers, such as Pun Siu Fai and Daniel Leung, and leading dance companies, such as the City Contemporary Dance Company Hong Kong. Her collaboration with the Guangdong Modern Dance Company opened the 9th Guangdong Dance Festival in Guangzhou, China.

Dr Fenn has served as composer-in-residence at a number of major European festivals, most notably the Lakes District Summer Music Festival in the UK and the Saxophone Habanera Festival in Poitiers, France. Of the first performance of her song cycle Over Exposed at Abbaye Royaumont in Paris, Le Monde praised it as “standing out in the genre of ‘songs’ of today” and La Croix described it as “deeply moving”. Her compositions have been performed by the Arditti String Quartet, Ensemble Cairn, Ensemble Linea, the Kuss Quartet, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Tin Alley String Quartet, Sounds Underground, the Endymion Ensemble, the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, Ensemble Concorde, the S.E.M Ensemble and the Eastman Broadband Ensemble.

Through her music, Dr Fenn often challenges performers to ‘see’ with their ears and construct spatial ‘views’ of their surroundings. She believes that sound is one tool to give audiences the chance to experience the volume of the space in which they exist.

Contemporary Music Composition
Music Theory
Music Theatre and Dance

A Reaction in Force for solo oboe, Edizioni Carrara, Bergamo, Italy
The Edge of Self for solo accordion, Edition HH, London
An Interior Monologue for solo viola, Edition HH, London
The Clash of Icicles Against the Stars for accordion, sheng and flute, Edition HH, London
Some Words for soprano and chamber ensemble, Edition HH, London
Unifying Divisions for 17 saxophones, Edition HH, London
The 5 Steps for 5 dancers, flute, violin and saxophone, Edition HH, London
Through a Glass Darkly for clarinet, accordion and trumpet, Edition HH, London
Winged Links for string quartet, Edition HH Ltd., London
Conference Report ‘2014 Continuities and Ruptures Conference’, Newsletter, Royal Musical Association, October.
“The Icons of Vesalius: Image and Music Superimposition” in the music of Peter Maxwell Davies, British Postgraduate Musicology Journal, December Vol.11

Integrative Music Theory 1
Integrative Music Theory 2
Creative Music Composition