Catherine Milliken, Musician
Cathy Milliken has been an artist many young Australian musicians have looked up to when they have travelled abroad to continue their studies in Europe. A renowned oboist, composer and music educator, Cathy has held key positions with two of the world’s leading music ensembles, Ensemble Modern and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
A graduate of the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Cathy completed a performance degree in both oboe and piano. In Europe she continued her studies with renowned musicians, such as Heinz Holliger and Maurice Bourgue. She also studied the Dalcroze Method of teaching music.
In 1980, Cathy was a founding member of one of the world’s leading new music ensembles, the Frankfurt-based group, Ensemble Modern. The group has appeared at most renowned festivals and distinguished performance venues around the world and works closely with the composers themselves. They rehearse an average of 70 new works every year, 20 of which are world premieres. Among the composers Cathy Milliken has worked with during her time with Ensemble Modern are György Ligeti, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Steve Reich and Frank Zappa, to name just a few.
Cathy remained with Ensemble Modern for 26 years before taking up a position with another of the world’s prestigious music ensembles, the Berlin Philharmonic, where she was appointed the director of the orchestra’s much-celebrated education program, a position she held until 2012.
Cathy left the Berlin Phil to dedicate herself to composing. She has composed for theatre, opera, radio, film and created installations. Among her commissions are works for the Berliner Staatsoper, South Bank Centre London and the CCMIX (enakis) Centre in Paris. Her accolades include the Australian Art Music Award, the Mario Merz International Music Prize for composers and a Prix Italia.
Today Cathy is recognised internationally as a leading creative director. Recent participatory compositional projects have led her to South Africa, Japan and Oman. She was recently appointed Associate Composer for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra for the next three years, a position that will allow her to create a new orchestral work each year for that ensemble.
Breandáin caught up with Cathy Milliken in Berlin, where she talked about her illustrious musical career, working alongside many of the world’s leading musicians, composing and creating participatory compositional projects around the world. And about how it all started back in the Queensland Youth Orchestra.
Title: The Yellow Shark, Frank Zappa Ensemble Modern Composer: Three Step, for horn, violin, cello (Cathy Milliken), Earth Plays I-IV Orchestral Work (Cathy Milliken) Recording: Spiral, for a soloist with a shortwave receiver, (Karlheinz Stockhausen) Trim (Cathy Milliken) Shifrorl (Cathy Milliken)
Title: Bernstein: “Glitter and Be Gay”, from Candide (Bernstein) Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Kaiserslautern Saarbrucken, Conductor Daniel Smith (Siobhan Stagg, Soprano)
Title: “Requiem”, (Brahms) Berlin Philharmonic, Conductor Christian Thielemann (Soprano Siobhan Stagg)
Title: Eine Frau, die weiß, was sie will Composer: Oscar Strauß Recording: Komische Oper Berlin 2015
Title: Pelleas et Melisande Composer: Claude Debussy Recording: Komische Oper Berlin 2017
Title: Ball im Savoy, Kangaru Composer: Paul Abraham Recording: Komische Oper Berlin 2013
Title:The Lost Art of Letter Writing – Violin Concerto Performers:Violin Frank Peter Zimmermann Boston Symphony Orchestra, conductor Markus Stenz
Title:Carlo (version for live chorus and strings) Performers:BBC Singers/BBC Symphony Orchestra
Title:Three Memorials for Orchestra & Between Moments (Music for Orchestra 2003) Performers:Queensland Youth Orchestra
Title:Pastoral Symphony Performers:Swedish Chamber Orchestra
Title:Hamlet Diffraction Performers:Allison Bell, soprano Allan Clayton, tenor BBC Symphony Orchestra, Conductor Joshua Weilerstein
Title:Wendezeit for five violas Performers:Brett Dean
Title: Brahms Symphonies 2,3 and 4 Composer: Brahms, Simone Young and the Hamburg Philharmonic Recording: OehmsClassics
Title: Symphony Nr 9 Composer: Bruckner, Simone Young and the Hamburg Philharmonic Recording: OehmsClassics
Title: Symphony Nr 2 Composer: Gustav Mahler Recording: Simone Young and the Hamburg Philharmonic, OehmsClassics
Title: Der Ring des Nibelungen Composer: Richard Wagner Recording: OehmsClassics
Chopin: 24 Preludes Cédric Tiberghien Chopin: 13 Preludes(from the 24 Preludes)Sviatoslav Richter Tokyo 1979 Bach JS: Prelude and Fugue No. 7 in E flat, BWV 852 – Well Tempered Clavier, Book I, Performed by Wanda Landowska, Harpsichord, 1949 Bach JS: Goldberg Variations –Harpsichord, Performed by Wanda Landowska (First Rec 1933)iTunes
“There's no substitute for that very first moment when an idea is manifested. For me it's very important that everything's kind of born at the same moment because a song is words and music and I feel like they shouldn't be separated. That's my idea of a good creation!”iTunes