© © Anna Meuer
© © Katrin Schilling
© © Ben Knabe
© © Ben Knabe
© © Astrid Ackermann / Musikfest Berlin

Ensemble Modern Orchestra

In 1998, the Ensemble Modern founded the world’s first orchestra performing only music of the 20th and 21st century: the Ensemble Modern Orchestra. The core of the orchestra consisting of 30 to 130 musicians is formed by the Ensemble Modern soloists. They are supported by musicians from all over the world with whom the Ensemble has established contact in the course of its 40 years of existence. These include young instrumentalists and New Music specialists e.g. graduates of the Master’s Degree Programme or Master Courses of the International Ensemble Modern Academy (IEMA). On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the IEMA, the Ensemble Modern Orchestra 2023 is composed exclusively of members of the Ensemble Modern as well as current and former participants of the IEMA.

The Ensemble Modern Orchestra was established as an artistic plea for contemporary orchestral music. It offers composers of our times a highly qualified and engaged instrument to realise their ideas. The Ensemble Modern Orchestra's ambitious concert programmes confront new commissioned works by e.g. Heiner Goebbels, Hanspeter Kyburz, John Adams with key works of modern times.

The Ensemble Modern Orchestra has been directed by a number of renowned conductors, such as John Adams, George Benjamin, Pierre Boulez, Peter Eötvös, Heinz Holliger, Ingo Metzmacher. Enno Poppe and Markus Stenz. Tours have taken the Ensemble Modern Orchestra to the major festivals and concert halls in Europe, including the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Philharmonie Berlin, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Konzerthaus Vienna, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Philharmonie Cologne, Prinzregenten Theater Munich, Wigmore Hall, Lucerne Festival, Festival Acht Brücken | Musik für Köln, Klangspuren Schwaz, Ruhrtriennale among others.

It has produced several CDs: these include Charles Ives’ ›Fourth Symphony‹, George Benjamin’s ›Sudden Time‹, Harrison Birtwistle’s ›Earth Dances‹ – conducted by Pierre Boulez – and ›Theseus Game‹, and Helmut Lachenmanns' ›Schwankungen am Rand‹ ›NUN‹, ›Kontrakadenz‹ and ›Ausklang‹. In 2022, ECM Records released ›A House of Call‹ with Ensemble Modern Orchestra under the baton of Vimbayi Kaziboni, which was awarded with the German Record Prize in the categories Zeitgenössische Musik and Grenzgänge.


  • This EMO model has been developed further since 2014, as EMO has now opened its doors to the outstanding current and former fellows of the Master’s Degree course and selected participants of international master classes of the International Ensemble Modern Academy (IEMA). These EMO/IEMA projects can be implemented thanks to support from the Federal Cultural Foundation
  • George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue: (Jazzband-Fass.) (1924)
    Kurt Weill: Filmszene aus ›Royal Palace‹: instrumentiert für Kammerensemble von Friedrich Schenker (1994)
    Paul de Roo: Inflation: Musik zu dem Stummfilm ›Inflation‹ von Hans Richter (1983)
    George Antheil: Concert for Chamber Orchestra (1932)
    Kurt Weill: Konzert für Violine und Blasorchester op.12 (1924)
    Jagdish Mistry (violin), Ueli Wiget (piano)
    Ensemble Modern Orchestra (EMO/IEMA)
    Conductor: James Holmes
    Locations: Dessau, Kurt Weill Fest
  • Louis Andriessen: De Materie (1985-1988)
    Ensemble Modern Orchestra (EMO/IEMA)
    Conductor: Peter Rundel
    Locations: Duisburg, Ruhrtriennale
  • Peter Ablinger: points & views: für Ensemble, 2 Klaviere, Lautsprecher, 16-teilig (2014) UA
    Krystof Maratka: Mélodictionnaire: Konzert für Klavier und Instrumentalseptett (2014) UA
    Brian Ferneyhough: Inconjunctions: für Ensemble (2014) UA
    Hermann Kretzschmar, piano
    Ensemble Modern Orchestra (EMO/IEMA)
    Conductor: Jonathan Stockhammer
    Locations: Donaueschingen und Frankfurt
  • Friedrich Cerha: Bruchstück, geträumt (2009, korr. 2012)
    Anestis Logothetis: Sechs Orchesterlieder, für Sopran und Bass. Nach Gedichten von Friedrich Nietzsche (1958/2011)
    Beat Furrer: La bianca notte, für Sopran, Bariton und Ensemble, nach Texten von Dino Campana und Sibilla Aleramo (2013)
    Roman Haubenstock-Ramati: Credentials or ›Think, Think Lucky‹, für Stimme (Sprechgesang) und acht Spieler (1960)
    Ensemble Modern Orchestra (EMO/IEMA)
    Beat Furrer: XENOS (2008)
    Conductor: Beat Furrer
    Location: Siegen