Off the Scale

For a composer whose work is rarely soothing and more often than not unsettling, it's fascinating to watch Liza Lim attempt to calm her crying three-year-old son Raphael. "Do you want me to wheel you out?" she asks him at the headquarters of the Sydney Symphony, where Lim is composer in residence. She moves his stroller around the conference table, but still he whimpers. "Would you like some water?" Instead, Raphael calls out for his father, Daryl Buckley, who is artistic director of the new-music elision Ensemble, based at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. "You want a Spiderman lolly?" Lim...

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