McKinney Philharmonic Orchestra, Artistic Director and Conductor Jason Lim was born in Penang, Malaysia and began his formal training in viola performance when he won a scholarship to study at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts with Alice Waten. He commenced his studies at the Canberra School of Music in Australia, and completed his bachelor’s degree with honors at the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney. He received his master’s degree in orchestral conducting from the University of North Texas. His mentors include distinguished conductors John Farrer, Nicholas Braithwaite, Henryk Pisarek and Max McBride.
Jason’s conducting studies began as an apprentice with the Canberra Youth Orchestra in Australia, where he honed his fine performance technique and developed a passion for innovative programming. In 1995, he was awarded the New South Wales Ministry of Arts Conducting Prize, which included acting as assistant conductor with the Ku Ring Gai Philharmonic Orchestra in Sydney. His career has been on the rise ever since.
In 2000, as music director of the NOVA Ensemble, Jason led the group in its first commercial recording with Equilibrum Records. He also conducted the world premiere performance of Brian Bavelander’s “Distant Visions” for orchestra and pre-recorded tape. As guest conductor with the Composer’s Forum Orchestra in 2001, he led world premiere performances for aspiring young composers. In 2010, Jason was among eight conductors selected to participate at the Ithaca International Conducting Workshop under the tutelage of Gustav Meier. Jason has also attended the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors in Maine.
In 2012, Jason commissioned the world premiere of “Breathe” by Brad Robin. In 2013, he made his European conducting debut with the Academic State Concert Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine in Kiev. In 2014, he appeared as guest conductor with the Zabrze Philharmonic Orchestra in Poland and the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In 2015, Jason earned second place in the American Prize Competition for Professional Conductors, returning in 2016 to win first place. In 2016, he also received the Ernst Bacon Memorial Award for excellence in performing American music.
Jason has appeared as guest conductor with orchestras and choruses around the globe including the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra, Johnstown Symphony Orchestras, Denton Bach Society, and the American Baroque Opera Orchestra. A champion of new music, Jason has conducted at conventions including SEAMUS Y2K (Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States) and the North American Saxophone Alliance. His work also extends to other mediums such as visual arts and dance, notably in collaborations with prominent dance choreographers like Bill Evans.
Jason remains an active performing violist, having performed with the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra, Amarillo Symphony Orchestra, Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony of Malaysia, Australian National Opera Orchestra and Texas Baroque Ensemble. Jason was also a member of the University of North Texas Graduate String Quartet.
Jason’s commitment to community and strong belief in education has led him to dedicating his talents to working with young musicians. He has conducted orchestra workshops in Asia and the United States, in addition to serving as conductor and educator for 10 years with the Abilene Summer Music Festival (in conjunction with Hardin Simmons University), the Pan American Music Festival in Edinburgh, Texas, and the Penang State Orchestra Workshop in Penang, Malaysia.
In 2012, Jason founded the Odysseus North Texas Chamber Orchestra in Denton, Texas. Serving as its Artistic Director and Conductor, he was named one of “2012’s Most Fascinating People” by the Denton-Record Chronicle. In 2014, the orchestra won second place in the Professional Orchestra division of the American Prize Competition (third prize the previous year). Jason’s pioneering vision led to a unique mentorship program in which talented high school students perform side-by-side with professional musicians. Since 2015 he has also served as Artistic Director of the Greater North Texas Youth Orchestra and of the Summer Music Intensives in McKinney, Texas.