Solace (Kirsten Milenko)

Program note

Kirsten Milenko seated outside in a forest
Kirsten Milenko is an Australian composer and conductor based in Paris.

Her music creates acoustic and electronic settings of an immersive and beautifully strange nature grounded on spectral practices. She is represented with the Australian Music Centre as an Associate Artist, and a member of the Danish Composer’s Society.

Her work has received international premieres by ensembles and orchestras such as Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra, Ensemble MusikFabrik, Athelas Sinfonietta Copenhagen, Danish National Vocal Ensemble and Esbjerg Ensemble. In 2019, Milenko was awarded the Roche Young Commission by Artistic Director of Lucerne Festival, Wolfgang Rihm. In 2020, her debut opera/dance-theatre work Dalloway premiered at Pulsar Festival. She was a participant of the 2020–21 Words and Music Workshop with the Opéra Orchestre National de Montpellier, led by Ted Huffman and Sivan Eldar. She has also worked as an arranger on projects including a series of orchestrations of works by SØS Gunver Ryberg for the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra. 

Milenko studied composition at the Royal Danish Academy of Music and Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where she received the 2016 Ignaz Friedman Memorial Prize for excellence in composition. She studied contemporary repertoire conducting at the Conservatorio della Svizzera italiana and completed the Sorrell Conductors Program at the Royal Academy of Music with Sian Edwards in 2022. In October 2022, she will begin the Cursus Program at IRCAM.

The poets leave hell and again behold the stars


Kirsten Milenko (B. 1993)

Solace considers the accelerated regenerative processes that follow extreme levels of fire and natural disaster. The material functions in orbits, presenting the multi-dimensional process of regeneration that is one of both life and death, beginning and end. The first section details flames growing from ember to fire, and the second a slow process of ashfall.

The natural world was previously seen as a place of sanctitude and peace. Today, we experience a very different reality of our relationship with nature, often viewing the
pre- and early industrial eras with a sense of nostalgia. Today, there is a growing and expanding sense of apathy blooming globally as many environments are exploited, or forgotten, and eventually lost.

The ongoing and regenerative processes of nature became a paramount point of focus during the wildfires in Australia in 2019–2020. As flame decays, a new cycle begins. The way in which we perceive multiple life cycles of environments in the same physical space is informed by the perspective we carry of the environment we find ourselves in. Solace asks the listener to meet the environment in a state of distress and destruction and asks the deeper question: do we perceive ourselves as guardians or owners of the natural world?

© Kirsten Milenko

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