Brief Biography


May Lyon’s stylistically eclectic music explores humanistic themes from astronomy and lore to mathematics. Narrative dualities and rhythmic precision are strong recurring elements in her music. Lyon has been commissioned and performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, National Capital Orchestra, Forest Collective, Ensemble Goldentree, Rubiks Collective and Syzygy Ensemble, and her first opera Pieces of Margery premieres with More Than Opera in 2021. Lyon is currently undertaking a PhD at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music as part of the 2020-21 Composing Women Program. Upcoming collaborations are with the Sydney Dance Company, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and Sydney Philharmonia Choirs. Lyon was a finalist for the Beleura Emerging Composer Award as part of 2019 The Melbourne Prize, participant in the 2017 Cybec 21st Century Australian Composers Program, and winner of the 2009 Adolf Spivakovsky Scholarship for Composition. Her work has been featured on ABC Classics New Waves.

Importance of Music

"I cannot imagine life without music, in all its various, beautiful forms. I see music as one of the markers for a healthy society, as well as being fascinated with its diversity. I wish to add to that. For me, to create music is part of being human."​


Photo: Conor Malanos 2020

Select Works

Dash (2009)

Solo Alto Flute (3 min)


This work reminds me of someone dashing about on a busy day. While there are moments of calm, ultimately, they are frustrated and a bit chaotic

Dash was composed according to arch form, with the five sections repeating in reverse order of appearance. Each section’s repeat has been altered in a different way, including palindrome, flipped notation, transposition and colour variation.

issue link to score

Duet for Cello and Piano (2012 rev 2019)

Duration approx 16 min

Duet for Cello & Piano is based around several themes and the idea of limitations. Each movement has a different limitation until later in the third movement where the cello finally breaks free and both instruments move into the flowing and improvisatory fourth.

issuu link to score

The Fate of Phaethon (2019)

For soprano voice, horn in F, and string quartet  - duration approx 15 min

The Fate of Phaethon is a reflection on life and tragedy. Referencing the untimely death of the wilful and defiant demi-god Phaethon of Greek legend, this piece adapts text from John Milton’s Elegy V: On the Coming of Spring to create a storyline from three perspectives, all sung by the Soprano: The Distant Observer; Earth; and Phaethon. 

issuu link to score

Ode to Damascus - Excerpt

Performance by Syzygy Ensemble at Melbourne Recital Centre, 2016