© Katrin Schilling

The Ensemble Modern

Since its founding in 1980, Ensemble Modern (EM) has been among the leading New Music ensembles. It currently unites 18 soloists from 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 Salzburger Festspiele, Klangspuren Schwaz, Bregenzer Festspiele, Wien Modern, Festival d'Automne à Paris, Holland Festival, Klangspuren Schwaz, Berliner Festspiele, Ruhrtriennale und Lucerne Festival, as well as Wigmore Hall, Cité de la Musique, Tokyo Wondersite, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Elbphilharmonie, Kölner Philharmonie, Konzerthaus Berlin, Festspielhaus Baden-Baden. 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. Almost 40 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 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.


  • World premiere of Markus Hechtle’s musical theatre work ›Minotaurus‹ at the festival ECLAT in Stuttgart
  • ›The Cave‹ and ›Three Tales‹ by Steve Reich (music) and Beryl Korot (video) performed in Berlin and ›Music for 18 musicians‹ by Steve Reich at the Open'er Festival in Gdansk (Poland)
  • Anniversary concerts ›10 Years of IEMA‹ at Deutschlandlandfunk Cologne and as part of cresc...2013, furthermore release of IEMA’s first CD production, entitled ›Euclidian Abyss‹
  • Premiere and subsequent performances of the Frankfurt version of ›Landschaft mit entfernten Verwandten‹ by Heiner Goebbels
  • Music from ›Yellow Shark‹ and ›Greggery Peccary‹ by Frank Zappa at the Festival Ultima in Oslo and the festival Sacrum Profanum in Cracow
  • The project ›Myths, Nation, Identities in Central-Eastern Europe‹ is performed in Warsaw, Riga and Budapest
  • The new concert series ›divided – united. Music on both sides of the Wall‹ featuring four installments launches as part of Happy New Ears. Guests include Georg Katzer, Helmut Oehring, Steffen Schleiermacher, Nicolaus Richter de Vroe; Moderator: Heike Hoffmann
  • World premiere of the new chamber music version of ›A Quiet Place‹ by Leonard Bernstein, conducted by Kent Nagano at Konzerthaus Berlin
  • Premiere of ›Loops and Lines‹, a ballet performance by Stephan Thoss inspired by Rudolf von Laban’s movement studies, at the State Theatre Wiesbaden
  • ›cresc...2013‹ under the motto ›Music and Time – Bernd Alois Zimmermann‹ featuring new formats, partners and locations