Exclusive Interview with Elena Kats-Chernin

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This week debussycat had the chance to speak with Elena Kats-Chernin about her upcoming concert with the Strathfield Symphony Orchestra (tonight and tomorrow night at the Strathfield Town Hall – for more info click here). A household name in Australia, Elena Kats-Chernin is one of our nation’s most celebrated modern musicians and leading composers whose output includes orchestral works, operas, chamber and solo pieces, as well as music for dance, film, and theatre. The Strathfield Symphony Orchestra commissioned Kats-Chernin to compose the Redmyre Suite in 2009 to celebrate its 40th anniversary, and it has been revised for these concerts.

You can view the programme here and book tickets here.

Kats-Chernin on composing

It goes without saying that the life of a composer is intensely creative and solitary in some respects. Kats-Chernin tells me she spends days composing millions of little notes and making constant changes to her work. Requiring only her piano, her manuscript paper, a pen and her mind, Kats-Chernin’s compositions are highly original and spontaneous, reflecting her unique idiom and personal history. Once upon a time, she might have cited Ravel and Bach as influences, however these days she draws inspiration from just about anything, whether ‘a conversation, a story or even something she has eaten’.

I have to ask Kats-Chernin what it is like to be a composer in Australia. Did she ever consider moving elsewhere? Her answer is a resounding “no” – Australia is and always has been the place for her. She laughs and tells me that composers are not fond of change. Constantly busy with new compositions, Kats-Chernin is glad to be surrounded by friends and family here in Sydney.

The story behind the Redmyre Suite

During our interview, Kats-Chernin reveals a little of her thinking behind the Redmyre Suite. I am intrigued to find out that the Redmyre Suite, named after Redmyre Street (being the street on which the orchestra meets for rehearsal every week) is inspired by the Orchestra itself. Kats-Chernin seeks to pay tribute to its members past and present, as well as the noble sacrifice of amateur artists who meet and practice in their free time, all for the love of music.

A preview of the Redmyre Suite

In short, the Suite is a celebratory piece inspired by community and place. Tonight I will be listening for Kats-Chernin’s characteristic rhythmic pulsation and distinctive melodic/harmonic language as well as the celebratory brass chords that she tells me will open the final movement. She also tells me to listen for the sound of ‘trains hurtling along the tracks’, reminding the audience of Strathfield’s famous train station – a significant and central landmark for community members both within and without Strathfield.

Finally, whilst Kats-Chernin’s inspiration these days is very much the fruit of her own ideas and personal experiences, there are a handful of references to Chopin and Bach in the Redmyre Suite. Whilst the references to Bach are more overt, you will have to listen more closely for motifs inspired by Chopin’s Etude No. 3 in the opening movement.

Why Rowing for Rivendell?

The proceeds of the concert will be used to buy a rowing machine for Rivendell, Adolescent & Family Mental Health Services at Thomas Walker Hospital, Concord. For Elena Kats-Chernin, the cause is one close to her heart as her middle son Alex suffers from schizophrenia.

Rowing for Rivendell will be a unique opportunity to witness one of Australia’s most famous musicians perform and hear the much anticipated revised Redmyre Suite. Book now to experience Kats-Chernin’s celebrated music and contribute to a cause that is close to her heart.

© Sabina Chitty 2011, debussycat Sydney classical music guide

Strathfield Symphony Orchestra – Rowing for Rivendell

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Great music for a great cause! Elena Kats-Chernin performs with the Strathfield Symphony Orchestra

Strathfield Symphony presents Elena Kats-Chernin as soloist and Geoffrey Gartner conducting sensational music on 24 & 25 June at Strathfield Town Hall at 7pm (note early start). Book now!

Programme “Preludes”– Elena will open the concert with some of her best known pieces for solo keyboard in an informal setting at 7pm while you enjoy a
complimentary drink

Kats-Chernin “Redmyre Suite”- commissioned by the Orchestra in 2009 and revised for these concerts

Kats-Chernin “Mater” – arranged for full orchestra for these performances

Dvorak – Symphony No 6 in D major

Join us for a wonderful evening including an auction of some unique signed posters and manucripts.

The proceeds will be used to buy a rowing machine for Rivendell, Adolescent & Family Mental Health Services at Thomas Walker Hospital, Concord.



For sponsorships and donations (including entry by donation) please contact Bruce Lane brucelane@optusnet.com.au 0411 550 006

Would you like to be in the FIRST EIGHT? Join Elena and others as Principal Sponsors and meet Elena with refreshments at interval. Contact Bruce Lane for details.

How about a little lunch music?

Advertised Concerts
A Little Lunch Music is presented at City Recital Hall Angel Place in association with Selby and Friends.


Are you one of the many Sydney-siders who work in Sydney CBD? Do you feel guilty each time you while away your lunch hour eating alone at your desk and perusing facebook?  Well, so you should, because there are incredibly cheap lunchtime concerts taking place right at your doorstep.  
City Recital Hall & The Sydney Conservatorium of Music each offer their own lunchtime programs.   Whilst the City Recital Hall is a mere $12 per concert (or even less, if you purchase one of their packages, some of which include free tea/coffee), the Sydney Conservatorium concerts will only cost you a simple gold coin donation at the door. Grab a friend and check one out!  

City Recital Hall – ‘A Little Lunch Music’ – Fortnightly Concerts  

Concerts begin at 12:30pm  
April 11 – Sydney Brass. This renowned brass ensemble takes us on a journey spanning three centuries from Bach to the Beatles.
Click for bookings
May 10 –  Sydney Camerata and Kathryn Selby (piano). Series Artistic Director Kathryn Selby joins the award-winning Sydney Camerata in an all-Mozart program featuring both symphony and piano concerto.
Click for bookings

Sydney Conservatorium  – Weekly Lunch-break Concerts  

Concerts begin at 1:10pm at Verbrugghen Hall.  
Duration approximately 50 minutes
March 30  
April 6, 13, 20  
May 4, 11, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25  
Click  for further information
 Bookings not required. If you have any special requirements or are bringing a group of 8 or more, phone +612 9351 1222 or email con.concerts@sydney.edu.au.  
debussycat – Sydney classical music & jazz music guide

Japan Disaster Appeal Concert

Advertised Concerts

Treat yourself to an afternoon of fine music and help the Red Cross efforts in Japan. 


WHEN:  Sunday 27th March, 2011 at 1:00pm

WHERE: Turramurra Uniting Church, 10 Turramurra Ave, Turramurra NSW 2074

CONTRIBUTION: Tickets $20 each. Payment on entry. Cash only (exact amount appreciated).

PRE-PURCHASE TICKETS & ENQUIRIES: Please contact Shiska Sword by email: jpcharityconcert@gmail.com


Aiko Goto (Violin: Member of the Australian Chamber Orchestra)

Satsuki Odamura (Japanese Koto player)

Airena Nakamura (Principle violin: Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra)

Suzuki Method children (Class of Yasuki Nakamura, The Honorary President of STEAA)

Kenichi Mizushima (Cello: AOBO)

Haruo Goto (Violin)

Laura McDonald (Piano), Itsuko Bara (Piano)

MASAKI (Violin: Japanese Artist)

and many more…

Click to Donate to Japan & Pacific Disaster 2011


 debussycat – Sydney classical music & jazz music guide