© Katrin Schilling

The Ensemble Modern

Since its founding in 1980, Ensemble Modern (EM) has been among the leading New Music ensembles. It currently unites 20 soloists from Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Japan, the USA and Switzerland, illustrating the culturally diverse background of the ensemble. Resident in Frankfurt am Main, the ensemble is known for its unique democratic organisation and working method. Artistic projects, partnerships and financial matters are decided and implemented jointly. Its unique and distinctive programming includes musical theatre works, dance and video projects, chamber music, ensemble and orchestral concerts. Tours and guest appearances have taken it to the most renowned festivals and distinguished performance venues, such as the Berliner Festspiele, Bregenzer Festspiele, Cité de la Musique, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Festival d’Aix-en Provence, Festival d'Automne à Paris, Hellerau Dresden, Holland Festival, Klangspuren Schwaz, Konzerthaus Berlin, Kölner Philharmonie, Kunstfestspiele Herrenhausen, Ruhrtriennale, Salzburger Festspiele, Wien Modern or Wigmore Hall London.

In its hometown, Ensemble Modern has had its own subscription series at the Alte Oper Frankfurt since 1985. It regularly produces musical theatre works in cooperation with the Frankfurt Opera, as well as a series of workshop concerts entitled ›Happy New Ears‹. Since 2011 Ensemble Modern has joined the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra in presenting the festival ›cresc... Biennial for Modern Music Frankfurt Rhine Main‹. Further cooperations and projects round out the multi-faceted profile of Ensemble Modern. The ensemble strives to achieve the highest possible degree of authenticity by working closely with the composers themselves. The musicians rehearse an average of 70 new works every year, 20 of which are world premieres.

Its work is characterised by extraordinary and often long-term cooperative ventures with renowned artists, such as John Adams, Mark Andre, George Benjamin, Peter Eötvös, Brian Ferneyhough, Heiner Goebbels, Hans Werner Henze, Mauricio Kagel, György Kurtág, Helmut Lachenmann, György Ligeti, Olga Neuwirth, Enno Poppe, Rebecca Saunders, Simon Steen-Andersen, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Steve Reich, Frank Zappa or Vito Žuraj, as well as outstanding artist personalities from other artistic genres. In 2020 Ensemble Modern celebrates its 40-year anniversary with a anniversary cycle spanning the entire year as well as numerous concerts in Germany and abroad, once again highlighting the diversity of its musical work. In addition to its multi-faceted concert activities, Ensemble Modern presents the results of its work through regular recordings, many of which have won multiple awards. Almost 40 of the more than 150 CD productions have been released by the ensemble’s own label, Ensemble Modern Media.

In 2003 Ensemble Modern bundled its existing education and further education projects under one roof, founding the International Ensemble Modern Academy (IEMA) with the goal of passing on the musical heritage of modernism. IEMA’s formats developed especially for specific target groups include the Master’s Degree Programme in contemporary music for young professional musicians in cooperation with the Frankfurt am Main Academy of Music and Performing Arts as well as international master courses, composition seminars and school projects. All these pursue the goal of educating a broad public about a great variety of contemporary musical tendencies and an open, creative approach to artistic processes.

Ensemble Modern is funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the City of Frankfurt, the German Ensemble Academy, the Hessen State Ministry for Higher Education, Research and the Arts, and the GVL. The Ensemble Modern musicians thank the Aventis Foundation for financing a chair in their ensemble. hr2-kultur is Ensemble Modern’s cultural affairs partner.

Chronicle

1989
  • Charlie Chaplin's 100th birthday at Alte Oper Frankfurt a.M.: Premiere of Benedict Mason's music for the films ›Easy Street‹, ›The Emigrant‹, ›The Adventurer‹ (commissioned by Ensemble Modern)
  • Premiere of Manfred Trojahn's song-cycle ›Lieder auf der Flucht‹ with Kurt Widmer (baritone) based on texts by Ingeborg Bachmann at Frankfurt Feste
  • Premieres of works by Heiner Goebbels, Isang Yun and Rolf Riehm at Frankfurt Feste on the occasion of the 200th commemoration of the French Revolution
  • At the Parisian Festival d' Automne the ensemble performs ›The Country That Gave The Freedom Symbol To America‹ together with jazz musician Ornette Coleman (free jazz pioneer) and ›Composition 147‹ in collaboration with composer Anthony Braxton
  • Initiation of a new subscription series at Vienna Konzerthaus
  • Hommage to György Kurtág at the Römerbad-Musiktage in Badenweiler