In 1998, the Frankfurt-based Ensemble Modern established the Ensemble Modern Orchestra (EMO), the world's first orchestra devoted to the performance of 20th and 21st-century music. The core of the orchestra is comprised of 18 soloists from the Ensemble Modern, joined by guest musicians from around the world with whom the Ensemble Modern has established contacts during its 25 years of activity. The orchestra's members include both young instrumentalists and specialists in the field of New Music.
The Ensemble Modern Orchestra was established as an artistic plea for contemporary orchestral music. This has given rise to a number of commissioned compositions, such as Heiner Gobbels' Walden (1998, world premiere), Michael Gordon's Sunshine of Your Love (1999, world premiere), Hanspeter Kyburz's Klavierkonzert (2000, world premiere of the full version), and John Adam's Naive and Sentimental Music (1999, first European premiere), all of which were written for the EMO.
The EMO's ambitious concert programs also confront new compositions with key works of modern times. By 2005, the EMO had already performed orchestral compositions by Charles Ives, Olivier Messiaen, Magnus Lindberg, Tristan Murail, George Benjamin, Pierre Boulez, Arnold Schönberg, Harrison Birtwistle, György Ligeti, Franco Donatoni, Hans Abrahamsen, Igor Stravinsky, as well as several performances of Nono's Prometeo. The EMO has been directed by a number of renowned conductors, such as John Adams, George Benjamin, Pierre Boulez, Peter Eötvös, Ingo Metzmacher, Heinz Holliger, and Markus Stenz.
In 2005, Helmut Lachenmann (born in 1935) was the main focus of the orchestra's concert activities. The EMO was happy to fulfill Lachenmann's explicit wish to perform his piece Ausklang together with Richard Strauss' An Alpine Symphony.
The EMO has already performed at many of the most prominent festivals and concert halls in Europe, including the Konzerthaus Vienna, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Lucerne Festival, RuhrTriennial, European Music Month 2001 in Basel, Festival d'Automne à Paris, and many others.
Several recordings of its performances are now available on CD, such as Charles Ives' "Fourth Symphony" (EMMCD 001), George Benjamin's "Sudden Time" (EMCD 002 and NI 5732), Helmut Lachenmann's "Schwankungen am Rand" (ECM 1798 461949-2), Harrison Birtwistle's "Earth Dances" - conducted by Pierre Boulez - and "Theseus Game" (DGG 20.21 00289 477 0702).
The Ensemble Modern Orchestra is funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation and the Deutsche Bank Foundation.
hr2 is the cultural affair partner of the Ensemble Modern.
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