Bun-Ching Lam

Composer Bio

A versatile and prolific composer, Bun-Ching Lam offers a wide catalog of works which have been praised as “alluringly exotic” (The New York Times) and “hauntingly attractive” (San Francisco Chronicle).

Born in the Portuguese colony of Macau, Bun-Ching Lam studied piano with David Gwilt at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She received a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (1981) at the University of California at San Diego, where she studied composition with Bernard Rands, Robert Erikson, Roger Reynolds, and Pauline Oliveros, and conducting with Thomas Nee.

Defying cultural boundaries, Bun-Ching Lam’s work stretches both Chinese and Western musical idioms to create a highly personal and compelling musical voice. Her compositions have captured a number of awards including the 1991 Prix de Rome, the first prizes at the Aspen Music Festival, the Northwest Composer’s Symposium, and the Hong Kong Conservatory Arts Song Competition, and the highest honor at the Shanghai Music Competition-the first international composers’ contest to take place in China. Bun-Ching Lam is also the recipient of grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1995, 1989), the New York Foundation for the Arts (1991), Meet the Composer/Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Commissioning Program (1995, 1993), Meet the Composer’s Composer/Choreographer’s Project (1989, 1992), and Seattle Arts Commission (1986).

Music festivals around the world have programmed Bun-Ching Lam’s works, including Pacific Soundings in Japan, Aspeckte in Austria, ISCM World Music Days in Hong Kong, New Music America in Los Angeles, and the 24 Heures Communication in Belgium. In the fall of 1995, the American Composers Orchestra and pipa soloist Wu Man premiered Sudden Thunder at Carnegie Hall in New York City-“an altogether mesmerizing sequence of meticulously detailed sonorities, swiftly moving from passages of static meditation to lashings of full orchestral forces” (Alex Ross, The New York Times).

Also active as a pianist and conductor, Bun-Ching Lam was invited to conduct the Macau Sinfonietta for the world premiere of her work Saudades de Macau. Highlights from past seasons include Last Spring for pianist Ursula Oppens and the Arditti Quartet, Impetus for the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, Social Accidents for the American Dance Festival, Klang for Swiss percussionist Fritz Hauser, and The Child God-an opera for Chinese Shadow Theater premiered at the Bang on a Can Festival in New York City. Last Spring was performed at the prestigious 12th Tokyo Summer Festival ’96 by musicians from the Tokyo Sinfonietta.

Bun-Ching Lam received an artist residency at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Study and Conference Center in Italy where she worked on Bigorio-a film score for the Swiss filmmaker Stine Werenfels. Recent commissions include Jeder Tag ein Maya Tag premiered by cellist Maya Beiser at the Sacramento new Music Festival and Fa premiered by the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet in Saint Paul, MN-both in November 1996. CRI has just released Mountain Clear Water Remote-a recording of chamber works by Bun-Ching Lam, with the composer as pianist.