Music

Thought Bubble: Elena Kats-Chernin

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Composer Elena Kats-Chernin muses on the what, why and how of art in this Thought Bubble.
Elena-Kats-CherninIf you could have created any work of art by another artist in any form, what would it be?
Bolero by Ravel. What a magnificent piece developed from such economy of means. A perfect synthesis of rhythm and colour, and a sensational way to build to a spectacular climax.
If art had to ask a single question, what question should it ask?
What am I?
Does beauty matter in art?
Everything matters in art, beauty can be many things to different people. Lack of beauty can be just as appealing as beauty itself.
Is mystery essential to art and why?
Music is as mysterious as it ever was. Many books have been written, many works analysed and yet it still remains a secret how a few chords or a few notes in a particular order can fascinate and beguile, while the same formula applied to different material can leave us cold. There is a beauty to this mystery in itself.
Edgar Degas said “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Is your success determined by what you make or how it is received?
The two ideas are not mutually exclusive. When you are writing a piece you don’t imagine how it will be received. You are a slave only to the idea itself. The most successful pieces of music are the ones written in such a way that there is no way to retrace one’s steps to how one got there. If one thinks too much about people’s reaction the piece will end up too designed.
Picasso said: “Everything you can imagine is real.” Can and should art be more real to us than life?
Art can offer more of life in a single moment than a lifetime itself. It can distill and condense emotion and experience to its purest form.
[box]Elena Kats-Chernin is a prolific composer whose operas and instrumental works are regularly performed in Europe and Australia. Last year, she re-scored three of Monteverdi’s operas L’Orfeo, Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria and L’Incoronazione di Poppea, for Komische Oper Berlin’s 12-hour Monteverdi Trilogy, as pictured above.  [/box]

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