Nirmali Fenn

Humanities (Music)

Assistant Professor of Practice
Coordinator of Music


View Curriculum Vitae

Dr Nirmali Fenn is a Sri Lankan-born Australian composer. She received her initial music education in Australia from the universities of New South Wales and Melbourne, graduating with high distinction. With the support of a prestigious Clarendon Fund Scholarship, she later read music at Oxford University, UK. She has worked on the faculties of the University of Hong Kong, New York University, University of New South Wales and currently works at Yale-NUS College, Singapore.

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. 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 SEM Ensemble, Ostravska banda, the Eastman Broadband Ensemble, Mivos Quartet, Ensemble Phorminx and Ensemble United Berlin.

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 vibrations in the volume of the space in which they exist.

Music dance theatre
Spatial hearing
Sound perception

Squaring with the Truth: Peter Maxwell Davies and Vesalii Icones
The Wandering Jew: Fugal Techniques as an expression of Exile
Cold Pastoral: Silence in Commemorative Culture
To See with Our Ears: Merleau-Ponty and the Phenomenology of Sound Perception
EEG dynamics in the study of the absence of auditory stimuli

Living in Sound
Writing for the Voice
Tonal Music Theory
Ensemble Practice
Creative Music Composition