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Biography

Elena Kats-Chernin (born 4 November 1957) is a Soviet-born Australian composer.

She was born in Tashkent (now the capital of independent Uzbekistan, but then part of the Soviet Union), and emigrated to Australia in 1975. She studied composition with Richard Toop, and later with Helmut Lachenmann in Germany. While in Europe she became active in theatre and ballet, composing for state theatres in Berlin, Vienna, Hamburg and Bochum. In 1993 she wrote Clocks for the Ensemble Modern. It has since been performed around the world, including Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, USA and Australia.

Since returning to Australia in 1994, Kats-Chernin has written three operas, two piano concertos and works for many performers and ensembles, including The Song Company, Sydney Alpha Ensemble, Evelyn Glennie, Bang on a Can All-Stars, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Sydney Symphony. She was also commissioned to write a piece, Page Turn, for the 2000 Sydney International Piano Competition. Her music has featured at the opening ceremonies of both the 2000 Olympic Games and the 2003 Rugby World Cup. "Wild Swans" currently features in a cartoon TV ad for Lloyds TSB Bank.

She also wrote soundtracks for three silent films for German/European TV channel ZDF/ARTE: Victor Sostrom's Korkarlen (Phantom Chariot), Billy Wilder and Robert Siodmak's People on Sunday (Menschen am Sonntag), and G.W. Pabst's Crisis.

Other works include Charleston Noir for solo piano, Rockhampton Garden Symphonies with Mark Svendsen for solo voices, mixed choirs and orchestra, and Wild Swans, a collaboration with choreographer Meryl Tankard. She has won numerous composition prizes in Australia, and her pieces are regularly broadcast on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Classic FM channel.

Kats-Chernin is a represented composer of the Australian Music Centre.

Kats-Chernin's music is available on several commercially-released CDs e.g. Chamber of Horrors, released in August 2006 by Tall Poppies Records. This includes "Charleston Noir", for four basses; "Chamber of Horrors", for harp (1995), played by Alice Giles; "Still Life", for viola & piano (2001); "Gypsy Ramble", for viola, cello & piano (1996); "Wild Rice", for cello (1996); and "Velvet Revolution", for horn, violin & piano (1999).

Her piece "Eliza's Aria" from her album Wild Swans is used in the 2007 Lloyds TSB computer-generated advertisements.

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