An aural and visual feast from one of Australia’s great contemporary composers, Elena Kats-Chernin, and her long-time collaborator, internationally acclaimed pianist Tamara-Anna Cislowska. Performing four hands at the piano and improvising live, second-to-second, the duo traverse the wonderful catalogue of Kats-Chernin’s music, shining light onto new treasures and old favourites, in a thrilling, unique experience of creation, expression and adventure.
As one of Australia’s foremost contemporary composers, widely acknowledged and awarded around the world, Elena Kats-Chernin has created works in nearly every genre, from orchestral compositions to chamber and choral, among them pieces for Michael Collins, Ensemble Modern, the Vienna Boys Choir, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, the Queensland, Tasmanian, Melbourne and Sydney Symphony Orchestras, as well as four chamber operas and soundtracks to three silent films.
Tamara-Anna Cislowska is one of Australia’s foremost pianists, winner of many awards both here and overseas including a 2012 APRA-AMCOS Art Music Award and the Rovere d’Oro, and whose recent recording of Peter Sculthorpe’s complete piano works has earned 5 star reviews in BBC Music Magazine, where it was ‘Recording of the Month- Instrumental’ (January 2015) and described as “Australian piano gold”, in Limelight magazine and Fine Music magazine.
This is a program that is sure to delight audiences already familiar with the composer’s oeuvre, as well as being an irresistible introduction to those who have yet to discover the unique beauty and scope of Elena Kats-Chernin’s compositions.
“Tamara and I like to play with material. We like to experiment. Perhaps there lies the essence of what we do together in our group and why this form of music comes so naturally to us. Being a composer since I was a very little girl, I have always improvised at the piano. I played the piano. I played WITH the piano. Every single day of my life. It is simply what I do. When I am not doing it, I think about when I will do it next. It is my best friend and my great love.
Tamara loves to play as well and so, since we met in 1995, we have often played together. It is only in the last few years that we have decided to perform in public (or rather, Tamara convinced me that we should!). We think alike and that makes it easy for us to fit together. Tamara has always had a great understanding of my music and so what could be very complicated becomes very easy. I don’t have to say in words how the music should be, and that is a great relief because notes are really my language, not words! What is so simply played or written in music is incredibly difficult to express in words.
In the works that we present, Tamara often plays what I would call the outline of my written score or sketches whilst leaving me plenty of room to elaborate or create further. The piece can take an entirely different turn by the end of the performance! It is this freshness and licence of creativity that excites me about these concerts, and many times a new piece has been born out of what happens on the stage.”
– Elena Kats-Chernin, 2014
Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Elena Kats-Chernin studied music in Moscow, Sydney and Hanover.
She has created works across nearly every genre, from rags to operas and works for robotic instruments to a full scale choral symphony, among them pieces for Michael Collins, Ensemble Modern, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, the Tasmanian, Melbourne and Sydney Symphony Orchestras, the Australian Ballet, as well as 4 chamber operas and soundtracks to 3 silent films.
Her music featured at the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and the 2003 Rugby World Cup. She has received several awards including the Sounds Australian, Green Room and Helpmann Awards and in 2014 a prestigious Individual Award in the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award, as well as the Sydney Theatre Award for ‘Best Score’ for Frankenstein (Ensemble Theatre).
In September 2012 her adaptation of three Monteverdi operas, a collaboration with the director Barrie Kosky, was premiered at the Komische Oper Berlin and broadcast live on 3SAT TV across Europe. The following month, her piece Promenade 60 was performed at the Adelaide Town Hall by 60 pianists on 30 pianos as part of Soundstream Adelaide New Music Festival. She was recently also a subject for “Creative Minds”, a 6-part TV documentary series by Robin Hughes, and received the Limelight award for ‘Best New Composition’ for her Symphonia Eluvium, commissioned by Brisbane Festival.
Her Russian Rag was used as Max’s theme in the 2009 claymation “Mary and Max” by Oscar winning director Adam Elliot. It was also the theme for “Late Night Live” on ABC Radio National for many years. In 2011 it was replaced by her Eliza Aria (from Wild Swans CD). In 2013 Eliza Aria featured on Daniel Hope’s CD for Deutsche Grammophon, Spheres, and her basset clarinet concerto, Ornamental Air, in Michael Collins’ release of works for clarinet and orchestra for Chandos.
Elena Kats-Chernin’s music is published exclusively by Boosey & Hawkes and Bote und Bock.
- "spirited, musicianly performances… with a kindred creativity and subversive spontaneity.”Sydney Morning Herald, 2015
- "…This is music full of edge and confidence”The Australian
- “Two consummate pianists playing fine music. What more could you ask for?"The Advertiser, 2014
- “... seriously good....A standing ovation greeted Kats-Chernin and Cislowska at the conclusion of this remarkable and utterly entertaining concert.”Canberra CityNews, 2014