Chaya Czernowin is an Israeli composer.
She was born in Haifa, 1957, and raised in Israel. Through her studies with Abel Ehrlich, Brian Ferneyhough and Dieter Schnebel, and various scholarships and prizes, Czernowin has been able to focus intently on refining her unique musical language since the age of twenty-five, living in such diverse regions as Germany, Japan, the United States and Austria.
In 2000 her Opera Pnima…ins innere, based on David Grossman’s short story "Momik", was premiered at the Munich Biennale and won her over 70 positive reviews in European newspapers. A non-linear experience — sonically and emotionally intense in its non-operatic sparseness — Pnima deals with the question of the impossibility of communicating an unimaginably traumatic experience, in this case that of the Jewish holocaust. Pnima was chosen "Best Première of the Year" by Opernwelt and won the Bavarian Theatre Award.
Among her recent awards are the 2003 Award of the Siemens Music Foundation and the 2004 Award of the Rockefeller Foundation for two portrait concerts in New York. Czernowin taught composition at the Yoshiro Irino Institute, JML, Tokyo, Japan, at the Darmstadt Summer Courses (where she won the Kranichstein Music Award 1992) from 1990 until 1998, and led numerous master classes. From 1997 to 2006, she has been professor of composition at the University of California, San Diego. Since 2003 she has been directing the biennial International Summer Academy for Young Composers at Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany and is presently professor at the University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna.
Her music has been performed at more than thirty festivals all over the world, including the 20th-Century Music Festival in Mexico, Wien Modern, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Asia Pacific Triennial in Australia and Huddersfield. In 2004 Czernowin was appointed composer-in-residence at the Dresden Contemporary Music Festival and visiting composer of the Darmstadt Festival. In 2005 and 2006, she was composer-in-residence at the Salzburg Festival where the opera Zaïde / Adama, her compositional supplement for Mozart’s fragment Zaïde has been premiered with tremendous success. Follow-up performances take place in Basle, Montpellier, Bremen, and Sweden.