Born in the Macao region of China, Bun-Ching Lam began studying piano at the age of seven and gave her first public solo recital at fifteen. In 1976, she received a B.A. degree in piano performance from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. She then accepted a scholarship from the University of California at San Diego, where she studied composition with Bernard Rands, Robert Erickson, Roger Reynolds, Pauline Oliveros, and earned a Ph.D. in 1981. In the same year, she was invited to join the music faculty of the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, where she taught until 1986.
A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002, she also won the Rome Prize and was awarded first prizes at the Aspen Music Festival, the Northwest Composer's Symposium, and the highest honor at the Shanghai Music Competition, which was the first international composers' contest to take place in China. She has also been a recipient of grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet the Composer/Reader's Digest Commissioning Program, New York Foundation for the Arts, King County Arts Commission, and Seattle Arts Commission. She was in residence at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Study and Conference Center and was awarded a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council for a three-month study trip to Japan. she also received a Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
In October 2005, Ms. Lam performed as the piano soloist in her work Saudades de Macau II, commissioned by the 19th Macau International Music Festival. Poestenkill Pastorale commissioned by the Albany Symphony will be premiered in January 2006, in a concert celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the orchestra. In 2004, Ms. Lam's Atlas for the Atlas Ensemble, which consists of 30 musicians from Europe, China, and the Middles East, was premiered at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, as part of the Holland Festival. Her chamber opera Wenji - Eighteen Songs of the Nomad Flute was premiered at the Asia Society in New York and at the Hong Kong Arts Festival to critical acclaim. Her work Song of the Pipa was selected for performance at the 2002 ISCM World Music Days in Hong Kong. Her other orchestral compositions have been performed by the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Albany Symphony, Women's Philharmonic, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, National Youth Orchestra of Holland, and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta. Her compositions have been featured in festivals around the world such as the Melbourne Festival (Australia), Bang on a Can (New York), New Music America (Los Angeles), Tokyo Summer Festival, Pacific Sounding (Japan), Hong Kong Arts Festival, ISCM World Music Days (Hong Kong), Steirische Herbst (Austria), and the 24 Heures Communication (Belgium). She was a composer in residence at the America Dance Festival, and the Music Alive! Composer-in-Residence with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra for the 2000-2001 season.
Active also as a pianist and conductor, Lam was recently invited to conduct the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra/Macao Chamber Orchestra in a program of her works including Saudades de Macau, commissioned by the Macao Cultural Institute at the 16th Macao International Music Festival. Among her other commissioned works are Song of the Pipa for the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Sudden Thunder for the American Composers Orchestra, The Great River Flows East for the Lincolon Center Out-of-Doors, The Child God for "Bang on a Can," and Omi Hakkei for Music From China as Part of the Millennium Commissioning program from Chamber Music America.
In 2002, Bun-Ching Lam had the privilege to be one of the ten alumni invited to speak in the Distinguished Alumni Lecture series celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Chung Chi College in Hong Kong, where she received her undergraduate education. She was also the Jean MacDuff Vaux Composer-in-Residence at Mills College, California. In 1997, Bun-Ching Lam served as a Visiting Professor in Composition at the School of Music, Yale University, and at Bennington College in Vermont. She now divides her time between Paris and New York. Her music has been recorded on CRI, Tzadik, Nimbus, Koch International Classics, Sound Aspect and Tellus.