Rodney Lister is currently on the faculties of Boston University School of Music, where he teaches composition and theory and is the director of Time’s Arrow, a new music ensemble, and the Preparatory School of the New England Conservatory, where he teaches composition, theory, and chamber music and is co-director of the annual contemporary music festival. He is also a music tutor at Pforzheimer House, Harvard University, and is on the faculty of Greenwood Music Camp. His articles and reviews have appeared in The Grove Dictionary of American Music, Tempo, Sequenza21, and The Paris New Music Review.

Rodney Lister's works have been performed by Joel Smirnoff, Tammy Grimes, Phyllis Curtin, Jane Manning, Mary Thomas, Michael Finnissy, Kathleen Supove, Jonah Sirota, Rebecca Fischer, Boston Cecelia, the Blair and Chiara Quartets, Collage New Music and the Fires of London among others, at Tanglewood, the Library of Congress, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and in New York and London, among other places.

As a pianist, he has been involved in premieres, first US performances, first UK performances or first Boston performances of works by Virgil Thomson, Peter Maxwell Davies, Milton Babbitt, Michael Finnissy, Philip Grange, Lee Hyla, and Paul Bowles, among others.

Rodney Lister received his early musical training at the Blair School of Music in Nashville, Tennessee. He was a student at the New England Conservatory of Music (Bachelor of Music degree, with honors) from 1969 to 1973 and at Brandeis University (Master of Fine Arts degree) from 1975 to 1977, and from which he received a doctorate in 2000. He studied privately with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, and was a member of Davies's composition seminar at the Dartington Hall Summer School of Music (1975, 1978, 1980-82). He was a Bernstein fellow at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood in 1973. His composition teachers, aside from Davies, have been Malcolm Peyton, Donald Martino, Harold Shapero, Arthur Berger, and Virgil Thomson. He also studied piano with Enid Katahn, David Hagan, Robert Helps, and Patricia Zander.