Cheng Wei (Ashley) Lim


Photos by Matt Dine


2020 & 2021 Wiltshire Louise Schaefer Fund; 2019 NAFA Merit Award; Participant, 2022 USA International Harp Competition


Bowdoin Music Festival, Maine, 2019; HarpMasters, Switzerland, 2018

What is your earliest memory of classical music?

I did ballet when I was 4, and I preferred listening to the music over dancing.

When did you realize you wanted to pursue music as a career?

When I was living in a girls home from the ages of 12 to 14, the prominent Singaporean percussionist Riduan Zalani would visit as a volunteer and make music with us. Having experienced first-hand the impact that music can make on a person during hard times really drove me to want to do the same. I picked up the harp at 14 and never looked back!

How did you hear about TŌN? What inspired you to apply?

I heard about TŌN from my professor, Gillian Benet Sella. I was inspired by the numerous orchestral performance opportunities.

What do you think orchestra concerts should look like in the 21st Century?

Fewer unspoken concert hall rules! Dismantle barriers between the performers and the audience. A more welcoming environment would invite newer audiences.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Benjamin Franklin’s portrait on a green piece of paper; this girl has to eat. And my undergrad professor, Gulnara Mashurova. She’s so elegant and poised, and listening to her talk about how she worked hard to get to where she is now always inspired me.

Which composer or genre of music do you feel you connect with the most?

Most Romantic symphonies. Sappy music that makes you feel strong feelings and emotions are my guilty pleasures.

What is your favorite piece of music, and why do you love it?

Pièce Symphonique by Henriette Renié. It details the different stages of grief, and is filled with so many raw, conflicting emotions. Which is rare in solo harp repertoire.

What has been your favorite experience as a musician?

Getting to meet so many people from different countries and from all walks of life! I wouldn’t have been able to travel so much and make so many friends if not for music.

Favorite non-classical musician or band

P. Ramlee and Pink Martini

If you could play another instrument, what would it be?

Definitely the cello. I just love how the instrument sings.

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

I was actually accepted into pharmaceutical school alongside music school. So either a pharmacist or my childhood dream, which was to be a cleaner in a zoo. Because I wanted to be near animals but I didn’t really like studying.

Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to have dinner with and why?

Jesus, just to see if he was really real. Would love to see what a conversation with Erik Satie would be like. And lastly, Cleopatra because why wouldn’t you?

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us

I worked in a harp factory as an apprentice so I can power lift and regulate harps! I can also physically move my intestines and curse in more than 10 languages.

Piece of advice for a young classical musician

Don’t be afraid of failure and rejection. You fail, fail, and fail before you succeed, so embrace and accept it as part of growth. And get out of the practice room to experience the world!