Professor Kim Cunio

DCA, (composition), University of Western Sydney, M Mus, (composition) University of Newcastle, B Mus (composition and voice), University of Newcastle, B Communications UTS
Head of the ANU School of Music
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
T: +61-2-6125-1386

Areas of expertise

  • Music Composition 190406
  • Music Performance 190407
  • Musicology And Ethnomusicology 190409

Research interests

Music composition, traditional music, ethnomusicology, music and the sciences, music and health


Professor Kim Cunio, Head of the School of Music at the Australian National University (ANU), is an activist composer interested in old and new musics and the role of intercultural music in making sense of our larger world. A scholar, composer and performer, Kim embodies the skills of the exegetical artist, showing that writing and making art are part of the same paradigm of deep artistic exploration. Kim writes for the peak body the Deans and Directors of the Creative Arts, the Crawford Centre  for Public Policy at the ANU and has a regular segment on ABC Radio Canberra to discuss music and the larger word. 

A descendant of Mizrachi Jews from India and Iraq, Kim is a recipient of the ABC Golden Manuscript Award for his work on traditional music. His compositions have been played internationally with performances at the Whitehouse, United Nations, and festivals in a number of countries. His list of commissioning organisations includes the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Art Gallery of NSW, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne International Arts Festival, Foundation for Universal Sacred Music (USA), and many others. A number of Kim’s projects and tours have been funded by the Australia Council for the Arts and the Commonwealth Government. Kim is currently working on a series of albums with the Gyuto Monks of Tibet; a project setting the sounds of space with the British Antarctic Survey and artist engineer Diana Scarborough; and a project on enforced feticide in India with writer and gender scholar Manish Sharma.


Researcher's projects

Some of Kim's recent commissions and projects include, Beyond Karma with the Gyuto Monks of Tibet,  Ishq, music for Khalili collection of Islamic Art at the Art Gallery of NSW; working with researcher Genevieve Campbell on her led project of music of the TIWI Islands; Songs to RA, music for the Egyptian Antiquities exhibition from the Louvre; Mandala for Dawn, an orchestral and choir work commissioned and performed in New York, The Thread of Life, a live recording of an international ensemble in New York for US release; The Temple Project, a realization process setting ancient Psalms and Biblical texts to Baghdadian Jewish chant on replica instruments; The Sacred Fire, an ABC commission to reconstitute the music of the first woman composer Hildegard of Bingen; Tomorrow's Islam, a commission to write music reflective of contemporary, modernist Islamic thinkers; and Buddha Realms, a response to the diversity of Buddhist music, written as a response to transcriptions of Buddhist players and singers. Kim has also written a significant body of music for television and screen in this period, principally for the ABC, which has seen him nominated for two Guild of Screen Composers Awards. Many of these projects include collaborations, particularly with soprano Heather Lee who has one of the finest high voices of Australia, and their work together combines classical methodology, traditional performance practice, new composition and wild improvisation.

Other noteworthy projects include Rising, a new opera which recently toured QLD, a planned recording of the landmark 13th Century collection, the Cantigas de Santa Maria, producing soprano Heather Lee and the Statny Komorny orchestra, producing composer Yitzhak Yedid’s music for Challenge Records Germany, three discs with the visionary writer Stephanie Dowrick, CDs with Canadian clarinet virtuoso Francois Houle, a commissioned sertting of the stories of assylum seekers in Australia and a new work for The Song Company. Between this Kim is building towards an international project based on the precepts of field recording and acoustic ecology. In the field of technology Kim has beern making a number of sample libraries with Evolution Series, and an upcoming work titled the extended violin is planned with Grame Jennings.

Kim also works in the Indian subcontinent. His work there include sThe Kalpa, a long instrumental work with eminent Carnatic flautist Dr Natesan Ramani; Garden and Cosmos, the Art Gallery of NSW and the Maharaja of Jodhpur’s sacred art collection; Oneness, an international commission on the life of Swami Vivekananda premiered at the Opera House and a project to set Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem Savitri to early Christian chant. A project close to Kim’s heart is The Vanishing, which is concerned with the practice of female feticide in India. The project has seen a multi channel installation prepared for Australia, the US and India, which combines field recordings with fictionalised stories based on ethnographic research in the field, written by Dr Manisha Sharma. Kim is also involved in a major project to document and write music with the Gyuto Monks of Tibet, with 2 releases in 2015-16, and a multi disc set to capture traditional practices that Kim is hoping to combine with a scholarly musicological book. In mid 2016 Kim presented a first work for string orchestra and the Gyuto Monks at the Tyalgum festival in NSW. Future invitations include the Pushkar Sacred Music Festival and the Jaipur Writers Festival.



Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  28 September 2023 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers