As one of Australia’s foremost contemporary composers, Elena Kats-Chernin’s vibrant and distinctive music across all genres has reached millions worldwide, featuring at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, 2003 Rugby World Cup and 2018 Commonwealth Games. Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, she has received numerous prizes including Helpmann, Limelight, Sounds Australian and Sydney Theatre Awards, the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award and the 2022 Australian Women in Music Award (AWMA) for ‘Artistic Excellence’.
Kats-Chernin has written for ballet, opera and theatre, and is performed by all major orchestras in Australia, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Brandenburg Orchestra and Australian World Orchestra; London Philharmonic Orchestra, Komische Oper Berlin, Deutsche Kammerorchester Berlin, City of London Sinfonia, BBC Orchestra, and in festivals across the USA, Europe, and throughout Australia. She has collaborated with well-known artists such as Shobana Jeyasingh, Didy Veldman, Mahan Esfahani, Avi Avital, Richard Tognetti, Michael Collins, Axel Ranisch, Igor Bauersima, Tamara-Anna Cislowska, Simone Young, Marin Alsop, David Porcelijn, and many more.
Kats-Chernin’s opera, WHITELEY, for Opera Australia (libretto by Justin Fleming) on the life of iconic Australian artist, Brett Whiteley, was nominated in the 2020 International Opera Awards for ‘Best new opera’; Eliza Aria from ballet Wild Swans (choreographer Meryl Tankard) was made famous by British bank Lloyds TSB; Russian Rag in award-winning claymation film Mary and Max. Kats-Chernin also composed the music for the first ever Australian episodic opera for television, The Divorce, (libretto by Joanna Murray-Smith) watched by over a million viewers on ABC TV. Recent world premieres include new works commissioned for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and more, including new music for film, string ensembles, and a fourth piano concerto.
2023 held notable world premieres of Kats-Chernin’s first violin concerto, ‘Fantasie im Wintergarten’, commissioned for violinist Emily Sun by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and received with widespread acclaim; her music for E.A. Dupont’s silent film Varieté from 1925, and a double concerto for Melbourne Symphony Orchestra; ‘KAIROS’ featuring dancers and Kats-Chernin performing live at the piano, presented by FORM Dance Project for Sydney Festival, choreographed by Meryl Tankard with visuals by Regis Lansac. Composer-in-residence at Magdeburg and Bremerhaven during the 2023/24 season, premieres in Europe included a new production of Kats-Chernin’s operatic version of The Wind in the Willows; the world premiere of her children’s opera Nils Holgersson’s Wondrous Adventures at Komische Oper Berlin; and new productions of Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver in Zurich (Swiss premiere). ‘Human Waves’, commissioned by Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, with libretto by Tamara-Anna Cislowska, received its world premiere in full choir and orchestral presentation at the Sydney Opera House this year. Kats-Chernin delivered the 2023 Peggy Glanville-Hicks address, and her music featured in 3MBS’ special radiothon with five live broadcast concerts performed with musical colleagues, and in the Sydney Opera House’ Inside/Out at the House 50th birthday concert performed to an audience of thousands by Sydney Symphony Orchestra and guests.
Kats-Chernin’s music is is published exclusively by Boosey & Hawkes, and recorded by Deutsche Grammophon and ABC Classics, whose releases include ARIA no. 1 albums Butterflying and Unsent Love Letters (performed by Tamara-Anna Cislowska), and a limited edition 10-disc collection featuring several large-scale works from the past 25 years.
Elena has been announced as a finalist in the 2022 Australian Women in Music Awards. The award ceremony will be held in Brisbane on 17-18 Brisbane. Read more here.
- "a true dream team...a dazzling collection... lushly recorded and extremely accessible... Fasten your seatbelts and hold on."Limelight Magazine, Aug 2016Butterflying, Editor’s Choice
- "Magical. The composer succeeds in creating an enchanting mixture of classical, musical and pop, animated cartoon music and hit numbers"Berliner Morgenpost, 2015
- “Kats-Chernin's characteristic imaginative space might be likened to an old dance, heard in a surreal dream, interrupted by outbursts of outrageousness.”Sydney Morning Herald, 2015
- "vibrant and seductive"The Guardian
- "…This is music full of edge and confidence”The Australian