Born in Brisbane, Australia.
She completed her music degree in Australia majoring in performance (piano and oboe). She then continued her oboe studies in Europe under Heinz Holliger and Maurice Bourgue as well as doing a full time study of the Dalcroze Method of teaching music with resulting Diploma.
As a founding member of the renowned group for contemporary music, Ensemble Modern Germany, she has worked with leading composers and conductors of this century including Pierre Boulez, Peter Eötvös, Frank Zappa, György Ligeti and Karlheinz Stockhausen (who produced her performance of “Spiral” on CD - Stockhausen Verlag Nr. 45).
In 1990 she started composing and her involvement with electronics has since then received various awards for her work such as "Prix marulic". She has composed for theatre, opera, radio, film and created installations and has been commissioned by the Berliner Saatsoper, StaatstheaterDarmstadt, South Bank Centre London, the ZKM (Centre for New Media) Karlsruhe, The Experimental Electronic Studio of Freiburg, the CCMIX(enakis) Centre in Paris, the German Public Radio Stations of Saarland, Hessen and the Deutschlandfunk, Berliner Staatsoper as well as Concerto Köln and international contemporary music festivals. Her orchestral work "Earth Plays" was recently premiered by the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in December, part of the Music Viva Series for 2015.A recent performance at the Tectonics Festival in Adelaide conducted by Ilan Volkov and featuring the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Jessica Azsodi won the Australian ArtMusic Award in 2016. She is nominated for the 2017 Mario Merz International Music Prize for composers. Other Awards include “Prix Marulic” and “Prix Italia”.
In 1994 she formed the HCD-Productions with composer colleagues Dietmar Wiesner and Hermann Kretzschmar. Together they conceived installations, performances, produced CDs and composed radio plays for which they received prizes such as the “Prix Italia” and recently with Dietmar Wiesner, the "Deutscher Kritikerpreis" 2009 and the "Prix italia".
Since 1990 Catherine Milliken has been involved in creative educational and practical composition projects for professionals and non-professionals alike. She has led creative and compositional projects for Festivals such as Klangspuren, Schwaz or the Megaron Hall, Athens, Aix en Provence, Salzburg as well as for various other institutions and orchestras, such as Carnegie Hall, Weill Foundation, Sydney Opera House and Berliner Philharmoniker. She has also been guest speaker at international conferences on creative education and held lectures and creative courses at international music conservatoria and universities. She has been a consultant for educational projects for Lucerne Festival, Tokyo Wonder Site, Münchener Philharmoniker and other institutions. From 2005-2012, she was Director of the Education Program of the Berliner Philharmoniker, conceiving their educational programme as well as undertaking the creative and educative direction of all projects.Since 2012, she has led and devised many international creative participatory music projects as in Japan, South Africa, Australia and Germany. Her compositional work has diversified to include participatory multi disciplinary composition including her most recent work for orchestra and participating audience "Waving" for the new Elb Philahrmonie in Hamburg. She continues to perform with voice, oboe and electronics and recently recorded with Ensemble Extrakte, Berlin, a group noted for culturally diverse musical practice and of which she is a member.
Catherine lives in Berlin as a free lance composer, performer, creative director and educational consultant.