Iris ter Schiphorst was born in Hamburg. After completing her piano studies and giving numerous concert performances, she spent two years travelling the world. Back in Germany, she took up theatre studies, cultural studies and philosophy in Berlin; she also attended seminars with Dieter Schnebel, Luigi Nono and Helga de la Motte. At the same time, she began to explore electronic music and sampling techniques intensively. In 1992 she was awarded first prize in the third Composition Competition for Synthesized and Computerized Music.
Towards the end of the eighties, she co-founded the association ‘zeit-Musik’, together with the composers Mayako Kubo, Franz-Martin Olbrisch and Berthold Türcke as well as the musicologists Frank Hilberg and Gian Mario Borio. Her compositions from that period centre mainly on the relationship between script and sound.
In 1990, she founded the electro-acoustic ensemble intrors, with whom she won the 1997 composition competition BLAUE BRÜCKE.
The years 1996–2001 saw intensive collaboration with fellow composer Helmut Oehring, which produced a number of joint compositions.
Iris ter Schiphorst has received numerous accolades and scholarships, including in 2004 a period as artist in residence at ‘Die Höge’, a centre for women artists. Her orchestral piece Hundert Komma Null (Hundred Point Zero), which attracted considerable attention, was shortlisted for the 2001 Prix Italia. The ensemble piece Zerstören (Destruction) was nominated for the World Music Days 2007 in Hongkong. In 2008, Miniatures for cello and accordion received the jury’s special prize at the Internationaler Komponistinnenwettbewerb.
Ter Schiphorst’s wide-ranging output includes all genres. Her extensive years of experience as a musician (at first as a classical pianist, later as a bass player, drummer, keyboard player and sound engineer in various rock and pop bands) has had a formative influence on her attitude towards composing and her concept of music.
Her works have been premiered at festivals in Donaueschingen, Witten, Helsinki, Paris, Munich, Basel, Glasgow, Berlin, Stockholm, Cologne, Amsterdam, Porto, Vienna and London as well as at the EXPO and documenta exhibitions.