© 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 Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, India, Israel, Japan, the USA and Switzerland, illustrating the culturally diverse background of the ensemble.

Resident in Frankfurt am Main, the ensemble has been incorporated as a civil law association (GbR) under German law since 1987, with the musicians as partners. EM is known for its unique organisation and working method, foregoing an artistic director: projects, co-productions 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 Salzburg Festival, Klangspuren Schwaz, Festwochen Wien, Musikfest Berlin, MusikTriennale Cologne, Lincoln Center Festival in New York, settembre musica in Turin, Festival d’Automne à Paris, Holland Festival in Amsterdam and the Lucerne Festival, as well as Alte Oper Frankfurt, Frankfurt Opera, Cologne’s Philharmonie, Berlin’s Konzerthaus, Essen’s Philharmonie and Baden-Baden’s Festspielhaus. It has had its own subscription series at the Alte Oper Frankfurt since 1985, presenting most recent works and developments. It regularly produces musical theatre works in cooperation with the Frankfurt Opera, as well as a series of workshop concerts entitled ›Happy New Ears‹, introducing and explaining central works and composers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Since 2011 Ensemble Modern has joined the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra in presenting the festival ›cresc... Biennial for Modern Music Frankfurt Rhine Main‹.

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, George Benjamin, Peter Eötvös, Heiner Goebbels, Hans Werner Henze, Mauricio Kagel, György Kurtág, Helmut Lachenmann, György Ligeti, Benedict Mason, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Steve Reich or Frank Zappa.

In addition to its multi-faceted concert activities, Ensemble Modern presents the results of its work through regular radio and CD recordings, many of which have gone on to win ECHO Awards and the Prize of the German Record Critics, as well as several Grammy nominations. Almost 30 of the more than 150 CD productions have been released by the ensemble’s own label, Ensemble Modern Media. Ensemble Modern was declared a ›Leuchtturm‹ or ›beacon‹ of contemporary culture in Germany in 2003 by the German Federal Cultural Foundation. That same year, Ensemble Modern began bundling 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 course »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 Ministry of Science and Art of the State of Hesse 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

2007
  • Premiere of ›Ortswechsel‹ by Johannes Kalitzke / Edgard Reitz at Donaueschinger Musiktage
  • Premiere of Francois Sarhan's ›Testimony‹ at Festival musica in Strasbourg and Metz
  • Premiere of the concert opera ›Phaedra‹ by Hans Werner Henze at Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin
  • Tour of Ensemble Modern Orchestra under the direction of Pierre Boulez with works by Enno Poppe, Mark Andre, Edgard Varèse, and Pierre Boulez in Baden-Baden, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, and Frankfurt a.M.
  • New production of Kurt Weill's ›Die Dreigroschenoper‹ by André Wilms at Schauspiel Frankfurt together with IEMA; almost 60 performances following the premiere
  • Touring to Caen, Paris, Reims, Luxembourg, and Frankfurt a.M. with Fritz Lang's film ›Metropolis‹ with music by Martín Matalón
  • Premiere of the music theatre ›Der Brand‹ by Jens Joneleit at Eclat-Festival in Stuttgart
  • IEMA's third International Composition Seminar, supported by Allianz Kulturstiftung, with Matthias Ockert, Seiko Itoh, Stefan Asbury and Hanspeter Kyburz
  • New, commissioned pieces by Markus Hechtle, Enno Poppe and Johannes Maria Staud at the Wittener Tage für neue Kammermusik, in Frankfurt a.M., and in Hamburg
  • Dutch Premiere of George Benjamin's ›Into the Little Hill‹ at Holland Festival in Amsterdam, U.S. premiere in New York at Lincoln Center Festival, German premiere in Frankfurt a.M. at Bockenheimer Depot
  • Premiere of Emmanuel Nunes' ›Épures du Serpent Vert IV‹ in Lisbon and Porto
  • Ensemble Modern, Winner of the Landmarks in the Land of Ideas, Germany, 2007