Lim Yau's status as Singapore's preeminent conductor is underpinned by a distinguished and enduring career. As Associate Conductor in the pioneering years of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, he has popularised the orchestra concert among Singaporean audiences with the Familiar Favourites series, as well as through numerous outreach and education concerts from 2001 to 2011 as the orchestra's Resident Conductor. Soloists he has collaborated with include Sumi Jo, Marc-André Hamelin, Steven Osborne, Dmitri Makhtin, Gordon Hunt, Sharon Isbin, Isabelle Moretti and Simon Preston,among others.
In and outside of his tenure as Music Director of the Singapore Lyric Opera (1997-2001), he has conducted no less than 20 productions including Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, Puccini's Tosca, and Britten's A Midsummer's Night Dream. He is also a frequent conductor of productions by the Singapore Dance Theatre, in particular Prokofiev's Cinderella and Stravinsky's Les Noces.
Lim Yau's contribution to choral music in Singapore is yet another landmark achievement in his multi-faceted career. Under his directorship, the Singapore Symphony Chorus has gone beyond the standard symphonic choral repertory to distinguish itself with Singapore premieres of 20th century choral masterpieces such as Walton's Belshazzar's Feast, Hindemith's Requiem and James Macmillan's Seven Last Words from the Cross. The Philharmonic Chamber Choir which he founded in 1994 is today Singapore's flagship chamber choir, and was awarded First Prize in the 19th Bela Bartok International Choir Competition, Debrecen, Hungary. The choir has also performed alongside the Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus, the oldest professional choir in Asia, at the Tokyo Opera City.
Lim Yau has guest conducted the Shanghai Symphony, Orchestra of the National Opera and Ballet (China), Guangzhou Symphony, Philippines Philharmonic, State Philharmonics of Tirgu Mures, Satu Mare and Constanta in Romania, State Symphony of Krasknayarsk, Russian Philharmonic, Philippines Madrigal Singers, Lund University Male Chorus (Sweden), Latvian State Choir, and has recorded for the Marco Polo and Naxos label with the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus while he was their Principal Guest Conductor from 1993 to 1997. Recent engagements include concerts with the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra and Hong Kong City Chamber Orchestra.
Lim Yau founded The Philharmonic Orchestra in 1998, with whom he has embarked on symphonic cycles by Beethoven, Schumann and Sibelius. An ongoing project is the 100 Years Later series, in which the orchestra surveys the three major ballets by Igor Stravinsky. In addition to giving Singaporean premieres of works by James Macmillan, Tan Dun, John Adams and John Corigliano, Lim Yau remains the only conductor to have premiered works by every major Singaporean composer, most notably the first and only Singaporean opera Bunga Mawar by the late Leong Yoon Pin.
Lim Yau graduated from the Royal College of Music and Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and has worked under mentors such as Sergiu Celibidache in Munich and Franco Ferrara in Siena. For his sterling contribution to music in Singapore Lim Yau was awarded the Cultural Medallion in 1990, and the COMPASS Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.
Lim Yau served as Music Director of the Singapore National Youth Orchestra from 1990 to 2002, having nurtured a whole generation of Singaporean musicians. From January 2012 he continues his role as educator, assuming the position of Head of Orchestral Studies and Chamber Music and Director of Orchestra and Chorus at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.