Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Elena Kats-Chernin studied music in Moscow, Sydney and Hanover. She has created works across nearly every genre, from intimate compositions for piano to pieces for chamber ensembles, full-scale choir and symphony orchestras as well as ballets and operas. Her music was used at the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, 2003 Rugby World Cup and 2018 Commonwealth Games closing ceremony. She is a recipient of many prestigious prizes including Green Room, Helpmann, Limelight, Sounds Australian, Sydney Theatre and Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards. In 2019 she was accorded an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), one of the country’s highest honours.
The extraordinary reach of Elena Kats-Chernin’s music also spans the worlds of film and television. Eliza Aria, from her score for Meryl Tankard’s ballet Wild Swans (commissioned by The Australian Ballet), was used by British bank Lloyds TSB in their celebrated ad campaign ‘For The Journey’. Her Russian Rag was used in the claymation feature film Mary and Max, by Oscar-winning director Adam Elliot. Both pieces have featured as the theme for Late Night Live on ABC Radio National. Her 10-hour adaptation of Monteverdi’s opera trilogy at the Komische Oper Berlin, directed by Barrie Kosky, was broadcast live on the 3SAT TV channel across Europe in 2012. Elena Kats-Chernin was also featured in Creative Minds, a six-part TV portrait documentary series by Robin Hughes.
Companies setting ballets to her scores include Nederlands Dans Theater, Ballet Theatre Munich, San Francisco Ballet and the Stuttgart Ballet. In 2015 Elena Kats-Chernin’s children’s opera Schneewittchen und die 77 Zwerge (Snow White and the 77 Dwarves) was premiered at the Komische Oper Berlin and her widely-praised episodic opera The Divorce was watched by more than one million viewers on ABC TV. This pioneering work, with libretto by Joanna Murray-Smith, was commissioned by Opera Australia and featured such artists as Kate Miller-Heidke, Lisa McCune, Marina Prior and Meow Meow.
2018 saw commissioned works toured nationally by the Australian Chamber Orchestra; for Musica Viva for internationally acclaimed mandolin player, Avi Avital’s 2018 Australian tour; an autumn tour of her Picasso-inspired Three Dancers by Introdans with over 30 performances in the Netherlands and Germany and Kats-Chernin’s third piano concerto, Lebewohl, written for renowned pianist Tamara-Anna Cislowska as soloist with both the Queensland and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras and recorded by ABC Classic FM. In 2019, a new production in Hannover of her opera Iphis is premiered (April), with the UK premiere of her harpsichord concerto Ancient Letters with Mahan Esfahani in Liverpool the same month. This year also heralds the world premiere of Kats-Chernin’s mainstage opera, Whiteley, on the life of renowned artist Brett Whiteley, with libretto by Justin Fleming for Opera Australia, and performances for Sydney Festival, Queensland Music Festival and Four Winds Festival (NSW).