Described as "vivid, yet ultimately enigmatic" (South Florida Classical Review), "evocative," "fluid and theatrical...music [that] makes its case with immediacy" (Washington Post and The Arts Fuse) as well as both "assertive and steely," and "lovely, supple writing" (Wall Street Journal) that “tugs at our heart strings” (OperaGene), her music has been performed in many countries around the globe. Ugay has collaborated with the Nashville Symphony, Albany Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, New England Philharmonic, Yale Philharmonia, Raleigh Civic Symphony, Norfolk Festival Choir, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Unheard-Of//Ensemble, Molinari Quartet, icarus Quartet, Antico Moderno, Omnibus ensemble, Andrea Lam, and Paul Neubauer among others. Her compositions have been featured at Aspen, Norfolk, CULTIVATE, MIFA, American Composers, Chelsea, New York Electroacoustic Music, June in Buffalo, and Darmstadt New Music festivals, as well as the 52nd Venice Biennale. She completed residencies with Washington National Opera and American Lyric Theater, which presented her operatic works on the stages of John Kennedy Center Terrace Theater and Merkin Concert Hall, respectively.
Ugay has received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, ASCAP, Yale University, and the Woodruff Foundation; she was also a finalist for the 2019 Rome Prize. Her passion as a pianist is to promote the music of repressed Soviet composers: at Yale, she led the concert series Silenced Voices, for which she received guidance from Boris Berman. Originally from Uzbekistan and raised in a multicultural Tatar/Korean music family, Ugay is particularly inspired by the subjects of immigration, motherhood, diversity, and geographic inequality. She is currently working on a monodrama commissioned by Opera America IDEA grant, as well as a large choral-orchestral work commissioned by the Redlands Symphony. She holds composition degrees from the Yale School of Music primarily studying with Aaron Kernis, and a piano performance degree from Columbus State University studying with Alexander Kobrin. Liliya currently serves as Assistant Professor of Composition and director of Polymorphia new music ensemble at Florida State University.