Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Lior is becoming a regular voice in the classical music scene.

While his career in indie-folk and pop still thrives, he now frequently finds himself collaborating with symphony orchestras, composers and classical ensembles.

“It’s a natural development of curiosity … I started as a singer-songwriter, and then as you become more experienced and more, you know, curious you start seeking opportunities that both inspire and challenge you.”

Lior explains that being a crossover artist isn’t without its challenges.

“You can’t make mistakes,” says Lior. “When you’re playing with a band, say, and you might forget something or make a mistake, you know, you can laugh it off … or turn back to the band, and go ‘back to the chorus, guys,’ you know, but can’t really do that with an orchestra. So, you know, you have to listen very hard. And also, communicate and follow the conductor.”


Lior joined Martin Buzacott on Mornings for ABC Classic. (Photo: ABC Classic)

Lior at a microphone with headphones on as he's interviewed for the radio

Lior joined Martin Buzacott on Mornings for ABC Classic. (Photo: ABC Classic)

In 2009, he played his own songs using the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra as a backing band, but his first real classical dive came in 2013 when he collaborated with film composer Nigel Westlake on Compassion, a song cycle commissioned by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

“Meeting Nigel Westlake was a big one really. And that was the beginning into, you know, my foray into the orchestral world through working together on Compassion with him.”

Compassion subsequently went on to be performed by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the Austin Symphony Orchestra in the US, where it makes a return in November 2019.

“With classical, it’s a more engaged listening relationship. And there’s a much, much heavier placement on subtlety … Playing at festivals was great fun. But you know, I think when you’re crafting and moulding your songs, and your arrangements, everything like that, I think, after a while — and particularly in, in the style of music that I do — you value, the sort of, you know, the subtlety and the and the listening to that subtlety, and that emotional engagement, perhaps.”

His 2017 album A Piece of Quiet featured The Idea of North, a Sydney-based classical a capella group, the Goldner String Quartet, and renowned Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin. It received a nomination for Best Children’s Album at the 2017 ARIA awards.

Lior is collaborating with the Australian Chamber Orchestra during August 2019 on a cross-genre project called Luminous. The project weaves in images by Australian photographer Bill Henson alongside music ranging from Benjamin Britten, Leoš Janáček, R.E.M. and Latvian composer Pēteris Vask. They tour most Australian capital cities before heading to the Barbican Centre in London.