Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

Search the Guide

To find information in this Guide please select one of the green coloured options.

To Select a Page Group when displayed, right click and select 'Open'.

Copyright Conditions Apply.

LIM, Voon Chong AM

LIM, Voon Chong AM

Voon Chong Lim, musician, composer and director, has been a prominent and talented member of the music industry in Australia and internationally. Lim is also a consultant for the musical instrument company Roland Corporation.

For many years Lim was the well-known Musical Director with Seven Network’s television series Dancing with the Stars. He has worked with many media entertainers including Tommy Emmanuel, John Farnham, Kylie Minogue, Olivia Newton-John, Tina Arena, Paul Kelly, Dame Edna Everage, Sir George Martin, Boz Scaggs, Delta Goodrem and Christine Anu.

Both the Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies at Sydney 2000 benefitted from his involvement and he both composed music and directed the Closing Ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. For many years he was the Musical Director of the Logie Awards. In 2006, he composed music for the 2006 Asian Games in Dohar, Qatar. More recently, he was Musical Director and composer for Citrawarna in Kuala Lumpur.

He was also musical director for the stage version of 'Dirty Dancing', 'Don't Forget Your Toothbrush' and Kylie Minogue's 'Intimate and Live Tour'. In 2011, Lim was the music producer for 'Australia's Got Talent winner', Jack Vidgen's debut album. On 9 January, Lim directed the opening ceremony of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup

Lim was born at Ipoh, Malaysia and after attending St Michael’s School was educated at Geelong College in 1977. That same year he won the College Music Prize. He studied Mechanical Engineering at Melbourne University but rapidly embarked on a successful music career.

Chong Lim.

Chong Lim.

In the Queen's Birthday Honours of June 2018, Voon Chong Lim was awarded Membership (AM) in the Order of Australia 'for significant service to the performing arts as a musician, composer, producer and musical director, and to the community' . His award cited the following:

Music Director, Victorian State Schools Spectacular, since 2011.
Musician, Composer and Producer, Ipoh Music Pty Ltd, since 1989.
Musical Director and Composer, 'Dancing With the Stars' TV program, Seven Network, 2004-2015.
Consultant, Synthesizer Programmer, 1980s, Roland Corporation, Japan.
Music Director and Composer, Opening Ceremony, Asian Football Cup, 2015.
Music Director and Composer, International Cricket World Cup, 2015.
Music Director and Composer, Closing Ceremony, Melbourne Commonwealth Games, 2006.
Composer and Music Producer, Asian Games, Doha, Qatar, 2006.
Composer and Music Producer, Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Sydney Olympic Games, 2000.
Music Director, and Composer, 'It Takes Two', TV Series, 29 episodes, Seven Network, 2008.
Music Director, TV Week Logie Awards, 2001-2008.
Music Director, Producer and Performer, John Farnham, since 1994.
Music Director, Producer and Performer, Olivia Newton-John, since 1998.
Music Director, Producer and Performer, Kylie Minogue 'Kylie: Intimate and Live' Tour, 1998.
Music Director and Performer, Tour of Duty - Concert for Dili, Timor Leste, 1998.

Chong Lim.

Chong Lim.

Chong Lim was interviewed for Ad Astra in 2018:

“As fate would have it...”

Chong Lim’s (OGC 1977) journey from a self-described “country bumpkin” from Ipoh, Malaysia, to one of Australia’s foremost musical directors could have gone dramatically off-track. If fate hadn’t intervened on multiple occasions, Chong could instead have become an engineer. He would certainly never have received an AM in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours for his service to the performing arts and the community.

Chong began playing piano when he was about six. Upon finishing his Malaysian schooling, he moved to Australia to board at The Geelong College for Year 12. “When they figured out I was interested in music, they were very supportive and Hartley Newnham (Director of Music) organised a jazz piano teacher and helped me organise a little jazz combo… and that gave me a kickstart to thinking maybe music is what I really wanted to do,” he said.

He then studied mechanical engineering at Ormond College in Melbourne University, where he started a cover band with David Hobson (now a prominent classical soloist) and James Valentine (now a radio announcer in Sydney). Word travelled about Chong’s piano skills and he was soon playing regular gigs.

“I would be distracted. I’d be studying for a physics exam or something, and somebody would be like, ‘hey, do you want to do a gig at 9pm tonight at the whatever hotel’? And I’d go ‘of course, who cares about the exam, I’m playing’.”

Chong returned to Malaysia to further his engineering career. Working in a Kuala Lumpur consulting engineering company, fate pushed him towards music. One of the draftsmen heard that Chong was a musician and told him that his cousin needed a keyboard player for a top Malaysian band. From there, he was offered a role in a national jazz television program, going live to air every Sunday night while still working full-time. “So then I was caught up in music again.”

Coming back to Australia to start a Master’s degree on torsional vibrations of spinning rotating shafts, Chong was still headed for a life in academia. “I kept thinking, ‘I really want to be in academia, I really just want to study for the rest of my life and research and stuff’, but as fate would have it, I got a call and there I was playing again, and I thought ‘you know what? I think fate is telling me something’.

“I’m not that good but maybe there’s a chance. So, I decided to put a hold on my studies and give music a go… I thought if in a year’s time it all falls in a heap, maybe I’ll pursue something else. I don’t know what it is, but I’ll give it a go. And fortunately I haven’t stopped.”

Chong’s prominent music career has included being the musical director for Dancing with the Stars and the Sydney Olympics. “That was a very exciting time, I had so many secrets in my head that I had to keep from everybody else,” he said of the 2000 Olympics. “Meanwhile I was composing music, recording music, meeting new people, planning and then of course, Sydney and Australia came alive during those two or three weeks.”

His adventures have also included playing with the John Farnham Band, Olivia Newton-John and Kylie Minogue, and working with Sir George Martin and Sir Barry Gibb, among others.

“I’ve had a very exciting time but every gig’s a good one, whether it’s to 20 people or to 20,000 people. It’s really about the music and when you have fun playing, that’s the best feeling.”

Sources: Ad Astra December 1997 p21. Publicity Biography; Ad Astra December 2018 p48; Ad Astra December 2018 p48.
© The Geelong College. Unless otherwise attributed, The Geelong College asserts its creative and commercial rights over all images and text used in this publication. No images or text material may be copied, reproduced or published without the written authorisation of The College.