In January 2023, Sylvia Lim was announced as the recipient of the 2022 Pythia Prize, a commission awarded by Rubiks Collective to an Australian composer, funding the development of a new work to be premiered and recorded by the ensemble.

More than a year later, Lim’s Shades of Night is about to receive its world premiere at Melbourne’s Abbotsford Convent on 12 April.

“The piece mainly explores our perception in the dark – indistinct outlines, subtle differences in shades,” Lim tells Limelight. “Sonically, I tried to evoke that by creating more ambiguity and overlap in the instruments, blurring them together with unstable sounds.”

It’s less about finding a direct translation of the sounds we might hear at night, and more about finding ways to capture the atmosphere of introspection, of our physical and mental wandering.”

Lim is an Australian composer, now based in the UK. Her work has been performed by a range of ensembles including the BBC Singers and by members of the London Symphony and Aurora orchestras. Her work often takes particular interest in the minutia of sound and what can be extracted from a minimal amount of material. With Shades of Night, her interest lay...