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Sydney-resident composer Elena Kats-Chernin enjoys three major orchestral premieres in Australia over the coming months, including a celebratory farewell, a new overture and a piano concerto.

After a new children’s music theatre work in Luxembourg, stagings of her operas in Berlin, Kiel and Melbourne, and a silent film score project, composer Elena Kats-Chernin has been completing a series of new orchestral works for premiere in Australia this autumn and beyond. These range from a moving personal tribute with two female voices and orchestra, to a new orchestral overture and a piano concerto for Lisa Moore.

Elena Kats-Chernin’s new commission for the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Ave Maria, is premiered in Perth on 7 October with soprano Sara MacIver, mezzo Fiona Campbell, and Pietari Inkinen on the rostrum. The 25-minute work sets texts by Kats-Chernin’s frequent collaborator Tamara-Anna Cislowska, saying farewell to a beloved mother. The score was commissioned for the West Australian Symphony Orchestra by Paul Rodoreda, the son of Mary (Maria) for whom the piece was written.

As Tamara-Anna Cislowska comments in her programme note, Kats-Chernin’s Ave Maria “forms a series of reflections on Paul’s mother, and the six parts serve as a portrait of her and the way she loved music, as well as the way she moved through the world. A sea shanty marks her beginnings in Ballina (Northern New South Wales), frenetic music marks her extensive travels, a prayer to reflect her giving, caring nature, and a dedicated movement “Bird on the Bench” to honour her seat by the Swan River.”

“The voices of soprano soloist, Sara MacIver, and mezzo-soprano soloist, Fiona Campbell, were firmly in Elena’s head while composing the piece. Writing for a vocal duet is something that Elena considers a gift. The two timbres represent the younger and older Mary, often singing in tandem.” Though the commission was highly personal, the resulting work stands to offer a universal message celebrating the ‘mother’ across the ages of a woman’s life.

A day before the Ave Maria premiere in Perth, a new Kats-Chernin orchestral concert-opener is unveiled at the Sydney Opera House. Momentum was commissioned through the Sydney Symphony Orchestra's 50 Fanfares Project and the premiere of the seven-minute score on 6 October is conducted by Johannes Fritzsch.

Coming months also bring a new Kats-Chernin piano concerto titled Force Majeure for Lisa Moore. The premiere at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music on 13 November brings together Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellows and Sydney Conservatorium students under the baton of Roger Benedict. The programme also features a striking early Kats-Chernin ensemble score, Cadences, Deviations and Scarlatti.

> Visit the Sydney Conservatorium website

The German premiere of Kats-Chernin’s harpsichord concerto Ancient Letters follows in Magdeburg on 26 January with soloist Olga Watts and conductor Anna Skryleva, and a new Violin Concerto for Emily Sun is presented by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra on 21 April conducted by Benjamin Northey.

>  Further information on Work: Ave Maria

Photo: Bruria Hammer

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