Lim Yau’s status as Singapore’s preeminent conductor is underpinned by a distinguished and enduring career. As Associate Conductor in the pioneering years of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO), he has popularised the orchestra concert through the Familiar Favourites series and outreach concert series from 2001 to 2011 as its Resident Conductor. Soloists he has collaborated with include Sumi Jo, Marc-André Hamelin, Steven Osbourne, Dmitri Makhtin, Isabelle Moretti, and Simon Preston, among others.
As Music Director of the Singapore Lyric Opera (1997-2001), Lim Yau conducted many new productions: from Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream, to the world premiere of Leong Yoon Pin’s Bunga Mawar. He had also made frequent appearances with the Singapore Dance Theatre—in particular Sergei Prokofiev’s Cinderella and Igor Stravinsky’s Les Noces. In 2012, he conducted the acclaimed Anton Juan’s production of Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at the Cultural Centre of the Philippines.
During Lim Yau’s long association with the Singapore Symphony Chorus (1980–2017), choral concerts have become a highly anticipated feature in the SSO concert seasons. Going beyond standard repertory, the Chorus has distinguished itself with Singapore premieres of masterpieces such as William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, Paul Hindemith’s Requiem, Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, James Macmillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross, and Arvo Pärt’s Te Deum. In addition, The Philharmonic Chamber Choir (TPCC) which he founded in 1994 is Singapore’s flagship chamber choir. TPCC was awarded First Prize in the 19th Béla Bartók International Choir Competition, Debrecen, Hungary; it also has had the distinction of having performed alongside The Philharmonic Chorus of Tokyo—the oldest professional choir in Asia—at Tokyo Opera City.
On the international front Lim Yau has guest conducted orchestras in Europe and Asia. As Principal Guest Conductor (1993–1997) of the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus, he has recorded under the Marco Polo and Naxos labels.
Lim Yau’s unwavering commitment to pushing boundaries of concert presentations has manifested in various pioneering projects with The Philharmonic Orchestra (TPO), which he founded in 1998. These include several symphony cycles such as those by Robert Schumann, Jean Sibelius, and Ludwig van Beethoven (which TPO presented for the second time in 2017 for its 15th anniversary celebrations). TPO has also collaborated with dance company Arts Fission in cross-disciplinary productions such as The Rite of Spring—A People’s Stravinsky in 2013, and garden•uprooted: an all-Takemitsu production in 2018.
Lim Yau graduated from the Royal College of Music and Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and had the privilege of working under mentors like Sergiu Celibidache and Franco Ferrara. For his sterling contribution to music in Singapore, Lim Yau was awarded the Cultural Medallion in 1990, and was conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award by COMPASS in 2011.
Lim Yau is currently Dean and Director of Orchestra and Chorus of the School of Music at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA).