#118: Audacity and Persistence with Composer Christen Lien

Christen Lien is a storyteller whose musical compositions are rooted in the art of a narrative. Her mesmerizing performance style has been featured in a variety of venues and contexts; Her music has been at the center of the ballet production Elpis, a part of museum exhibits and performed by Christen for the Obama White House, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and at Google and Burning Man. Christen joins the show to talk with Lisa about discovering her creative powers, her connection with the viola, and evoking emotion from music at a young age. Her message on the importance of trusting yourself more than you listen to other people is central to Christen’s work and life. 


  • At a young age, Christen became fascinated with the magnetic energy of music and the outlet of expression within writing and poetry. The viola, in particular, spoke to her, and she realized she had a sacred connection and gift with the instrument. 
  • Christen taught herself overtime to manage her energy while performing. She learned how to give it all on stage yet preserve her health and well being. 
  • Christen integrates real-time composing in her performance through looping. 
  • It is important to listen to and honor that voice inside. 
  • You don’t have to be a kid to play an instrument. You can enjoy it as a means of play and self-expression, without an attachment to any other outcome. 
  • Christen takes each song and album as a new opportunity to convey a story and idea. 
  • Be your own champion in life. Self-advocacy and accountability for your actions are necessary to have an authentic and connected life. 
  • Artists often have the double duty of finding time for creativity and maintaining/growing their business. 


  • “The music takes me over, and it’s always been like that.” 
  • “Pay attention to the quiet urge calling out for expression.” 
  • “Trust yourself that your gut feelings and urges don’t come out of nowhere.” 
  • “Discipline is the gateway to freedom.” 

Connect with Christen:

Online at Christen Lien on Instagram at@christenlien and on Facebook at @ChristenLien

Also mentioned in this Episode:

Connect with Lisa



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