© Katrin Schilling

Ensemble Modern

Since its founding in 1980, Ensemble Modern (EM) has been among the leading New Music ensembles. It currently unites around 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, musica viva / Bayerischer Rundfunk, Ruhrtriennale, Salzburger Festspiele, Wien Modern and 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 Current 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 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 50 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 University 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. hr2-kultur is Ensemble Modern’s cultural affairs partner.


  • ›Jagden und Formen‹ by Wolfgang Rihm, directed by Sasha Waltz in Hamburg and Cologne
  • Concert performance of Hans Werner Henze’s ›Phaedra‹ in London, Barbican Concert Hall
  • Premiere of ›Offene Wunden‹ at the Kurt Weill Fest Dessau, subsequent performances at the MusikTriennale in Cologne and at Bockenheimer Depot, Frankfurt
  • ›into Istanbul‹ in the European Capitals of Culture Essen and Istanbul
  • 30 years of Ensemble Modern I: World premieres by Orm Finnendhal, Miroslav Srnka, Benedict Mason, Saed Haddad, Anthony Cheung at Alte Oper Frankfurt
  • Concerts as part of ›Football meets Culture‹ in Johannesburg with works by Lucia Ronchetti, Oscar Bianchi, Heiner Goebbels, organized by the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Programme, conducted by Sian Edwards
  • Guest appearance at Ojai Music Festival (California). Four concerts featuring works by George Benjamin, Edgard Varèse, Olivier Messiaen, Frank Zappa, Oliver Knussen, György Ligeti, conducted by Brad Lubman and George Benjamin
  • world premiere of ›Mirages‹ by Michael Riessler/Abdul Alafrez at KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen
  • Concerts at the Salzburg Festival: Kontinent Rihm
  • ›into Pearl River Delta‹ in Essen and Hong Kong
  • Quarterly Prize (4/2010) of the German Record Critics in the ›Contemporary Music‹ category for the outstanding production of the Portrait CD of Saed Haddad, released as part of the Contemporary Music edition of the German Music Council