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The Witching Hour - Elena Kats-Chernin
, 2017

by Wendy Sharpe

oil on canvas (support: 150.0 cm x 150.0 cm)

Elena Kats-Chernin trained at the Gnessin Musical College in Moscow before moving to Australia in 1975. On graduation from the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music in 1980 she gained a DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) grant to study with Helmut Lachenmann in Hanover. She spent thirteen years in Germany before returning to Australia, where she now lives in Sydney. Among her many commissions are pieces for Ensemble Modern, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the Australian World Orchestra, the Adelaide, Tasmanian, Melbourne and Sydney Symphony Orchestras, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, the City of London Sinfonia, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and the North Carolina Symphony. In 2011 Kats-Chernin was appointed composer-in-residence with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and in 2017 she played the same role with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. In between, her CD Butterflying (comprising piano works for four hands, with Tamara-Anna Cislowska, released on ABC Classics) was at the top of ARIA Classical Core Chart for 13 weeks, reaching number 1 in September 2016. Her Unsent love letters: meditations on Erik Satie (piano solo, featuring Tamara-Anna Cislowska, released on ABC Classics) debuted at number 1 on the ARIA Classical Chart in March 2017. Choreographers around the world have created dances around Kats-Chernin’s music and it has often featured in television, advertising and film scores.

The title The Witching Hour refers to a concerto for eight double basses composed by Kats-Chernin for the Australian World Orchestra, performed at the Sydney Opera House in September 2016 and at Singapore’s Esplanade Concert Hall the following month. The composer and the artist are friends, and the painting was Sharpe’s Archibald entry for 2017 (it was hung in the Salon des Refusés). The development of the work was recorded in a Mint Pictures documentary about the Archibald shown on Foxtel Arts that year.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2018
Accession number: 2018.122