Elena Kats-Chernin is one of Australia’s most loved composers, and her music speaks to an audience of enormous diversity.
As a person, Elena is vivacious and exudes energy and colour.
Much of her music has a melancholy and sadness that is quite beautiful. Elena spoke so openly about this and talked about how it comes from the personal tragedy of her son, who has a mental illness.
Throughout the sittings, she commented on how difficult her son’s illness has been for her. And sometimes she wonders whether that was the price she paid for her talent. I prefer to interpret it as a gift given to help her during this difficult time and also to help others.
The music in the background of the portrait comes from Elena’s handwritten scores. In a world filled with fast-paced technology, it seemed so delightful to me that her musical scores are still handwritten without the aid of technology and then painstakingly copied and orchestrated. Some scores have even come to fruition on paper serviettes while waiting in cafes.