Cathy Milliken


Extended Biography

Cathy Milliken moves between manifold musical worlds, taking great joy in facilitating creativity and participation. Through the diversity and relevance of her output, and especially her multi-national collective creative projects, she has won international recognition as a leading composer, creative director, performer and educational program consultant. One thing is common to all her work: the delight in the moment, whether it be in the humour, the sound, the gesture or the structure of that particular experienced moment.

Cathy has devised and composed works for theatre, opera, choir, orchestra, chamber ensembles radio and film, and created installations. She has been commissioned by the Berliner Staatsoper, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Staatstheater Darmstadt, South Bank Centre London, the ZKM (Centre for New Media) Karlsruhe, The Experimental Electronic Studio of Freiburg, as well as the CCMIX(enakis) Centre in Paris, the German Public Radio Stations of Saarland, Hessen and the Deutschlandfunk and Concerto Köln. Her CD “Two Step” was released to critical acclaim in early 2020 on the Tall Poppies label.

In 2019, her new work Bright Ring, commissioned by Ensemble Modern for large ensemble, was performed under the baton of Sir George Benjamin in Wigmore Hall, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and the Alte Oper Frankfurt, receiving enthusiastic reviews.

Earth Plays, a four-movement orchestral work, was premiered by the Bavarian Radio Orchestra and mezzo-soprano Fiona Campbell in December 2015, a commission by the prestigious Musica Viva in Munich. A later performance at the Tectonics Festival in Adelaide won the Australian ArtMusic Award in 2016. She was also a finalist in the 2017 Mario Merz International Music Prize for composers. Other Awards include “Prix Marulic” and “Prix Italia”.

From 2005 – 2012, Cathy Milliken was Director of the Education Program of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Participatory compositional projects in recent years have taken her to South Africa, Japan and Oman. She is part of the creative team for the Munich Biennale for Music Theatre and serves as honorary member of advisory boards for the German Music Council and the Goethe Institute. Her collaborative composition Stadtlied (City Song) was premiered in the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg in 2019.

Forthcoming projects include commissions from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Zafraan Ensemble Berlin, LuxNM, the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne for London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Modern, Asko Schoenberg and Casa da Musica (Porto), collaborative choir projects involving Arabic, Balkan and Mediterranean cultural regions, a work for Speak Percussion and ANAM (Melbourne), a second commission for Musica Viva and the Bavarian Radio Orchestra (Munich), and an opera for Sydney Chamber Opera and Ensemble Offspring. Cathy was Composer in Association with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra from 2018-2020, a position comprising the creation of a new orchestral work each year.

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