Born in the Macao region of China, Bun-Ching Lam began studying piano at the age of seven and gave her first public solo recital at fifteen. In 1976, she received a B.A. degree in piano performance from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She then accepted a scholarship from the University of California at San Diego, where she studied composition with Bernard Rands, Robert Erickson, Roger Reynolds, Pauline Oliveros, and earned a Ph.D. in 1981. In the same year, she was invited to join the music faculty of the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, where she taught until 1986.
Serving as the resident composer of the Macao Orchestra from 2008 - 2016, Ms. Lam was also a composer in residence at the America Dance Festival and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra for the 2000-2001 season. She has been honored by fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She also won the Rome Prize and was awarded first prizes at the Aspen Music Festival, the Northwest Composer's Symposium, and the highest honor at the Shanghai Music Competition, which was the first international composers' contest to take place in China. She was a recipient of grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer/Reader's Digest Commissioning Program, New York Foundation for the Arts, King County Arts Commission and Seattle Arts Commission. She was in residence at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Study and Conference Center and was awarded a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council for a three-month study trip to Japan.
Bun-Ching Lam was one of the 27 composers who received commissions from violinist Hilary Hahn to compose a piece for her "Encore Project". She has premiered all the pieces since 2012 and a double CD was released on Deutsche Grammophon in 2013. In October of 2009, the Heidelberg University of Germany presented a retrospective of Ms. Lam's chamber music in a series of three concerts, in conjunction with an exhibition of artist books that she produced in collaboration with the Kaldewey Press, as part of the "Cluster of Excellence" program. A double CD "Heidelberg Concerts", which consist of live recordings of two of the concerts was released on Mutable Music. Subsequently, in 2011, a similar event entitled "Lam Bun-Ching & Friends" took place in the 26th Macao International Music Festival. In 2005 she performed as the piano soloist in her work "Saudades de Macau II," commissioned by the 19th Macau International Music Festival. "Poestenkill Pastorale," commissioned by the Albany Symphony, was performed in January of 2006, in a concert celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the orchestra. In 2004, Ms. Lam's "Atlas" for the Atlas Ensemble, which consists of 30 musicians from Europe, China and the Middles East, was premiered at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, as part of the Holland Festival. Her chamber opera "Wenji - Eighteen Songs of the Nomad Flute" premiered at the Asia Society in New York and at the Hong Kong Arts Festival received a new staging at the Macao Arts Festival in 2009. A new production of “Wenji” was mounted in the summer of 2019 in Heidelberg and Ludwigsburg to critical acclaim. Her work "Mirroir de Macao" and "Song of the Pipa" were selected for performances at the ISCM World Music Days in Hong Kong respectively in 2007 and 2002. Her other orchestral compositions have been performed by the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, Macao Orchestra, Albany Symphony, Women's Philharmonic, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Holland, and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta. Her compositions have been featured in festivals around the world such as the Melbourne Festival (Australia), Bang on a Can (New York), New Music America (Los Angeles), Tokyo Summer Festival, Pacific Sounding (Japan), Hong Kong Arts Festival, ISCM World Music Days (Hong Kong), Steirische Herbst (Austria), and the 24 Heures Communication (Belgium).
Active also as a conductor, Ms. Lam conducted the premiere of "Macau Cantata" in May of 2015. She was also invited to conduct the Cosmopolitan Orchestra of New York, and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra/Macao Chamber Orchestra in a program of her works including "Saudades de Macau," commissioned by the Macao Cultural Institute at the 16th Macao International Music Festival. Among her other commissioned works are "Song of the Pipa" for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, "Sudden Thunder" for the American Composers Orchestra, "The Great River Flows East" for the Lincolon Center Out-of-Doors, "The Child God" for "Bang on a Can," "Omi Hakkei" for Music From China as Part of the Millennium Commissioning program from Chamber Music America, and "Last Spring" for Ursula Oppens and the Arditti Quartet.
In November 2013, Ms. Lam presented a lecture on Poetry - Images - Music entitled "River Flows, Moon Moves Stone" at the Shun Hing Lecture Series in Arts & Humanities, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Chinese University of Hong Kong. She also had the privilege to be one of the ten alumni invited to speak in the Distinguished Alumni Lecture series in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Chung Chi College. Ten years later, she was invited again to return to her alma mater as the Siu Lien Ling Wong Visiting Fellow in 2012, celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the College. In 2018-2019, she was invited to serve as one of the twelve members in the Global Alumni Advisory Board of CUHK. She was Honored as the "Outstanding Alumna" of 2010 by the Alumni Association of the University of California, San Diego. Ms. Lam was the Jean MacDuff Vaux Composer-in-Residence at Mills College, California. In 1997, she served as a Visiting Professor in Composition at the School of Music, Yale University, and at Bennington College in Vermont. Her music has been recorded on Deutsche Grammophon, Mutable Music, CRI, Tzadik, Nimbus, Koch International Classics, Sound Aspect and Tellus. She now divides her time between Paris and New York.
Described as “alluringly exotic” (The New York Times), and “hauntingly attractive” (San Francisco Chronicle), the music of Bun-Ching Lam has been performed worldwide by such ensembles as the Macao Orchestra, American Composer’s Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony, The Vienna Radio Orchestra, Hong Kong Sinfonietta and the Albany Symphony. Born in Macao, Lam has served as the composer-in-residence of the Macao Orchestra from 2008-2016. She began her piano study in her native city, then further pursued her music education in Hong Kong and the United States. She holds a B.A. degree in Piano Performance from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of California at San Diego. She has taught at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, and served as Visiting Professor at the Yale University School of Music and at Bennington College.
She has been recognized by numerous awards including a Rome Prize, the highest Award at the Shanghai International Composers’ Competition, two NEA grants, fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She has received commissions from the American Composers Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, Macau Orchestra, Chamber Music America, CrossSound Festival, Bang On a Can Festival, Sequitur, Continuum, Ursula Oppens and the Arditti String Quartet. She also served as the Music Alive! Composer-in-Residence with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Bun-Ching Lam’s work has been recorded on Mutable Music, CRI, Tzadik, Nimbus, and Koch International. She now divides her time between Paris and New York.