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

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.


  • Kurt Weill: Chansons des Quais: Suite from Marie Galante - Musik von Kurt Weill, Texte von Jacque Deval. Zusammengestellt von Kim Kowalke (1934/2016) (Uraufführung)
    George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue - Jazz Band Version (1924)
    Kurt Weill: 2. Sinfonie - für Orchester (1933-34)
    Ensemble Modern Orchestra (EMO/IEMA)
    Ensemble Amarcord
    Dirigent: HK Gruber
    Klavier: Ueli Wiget, Sopran: Ute Gfrerer
    Station: Dessau
  • Heiner Goebbels: Surrogate Cities - für Mezzosopran, Sprechstimme, Sampler und großes Orchester (1993/94)
    Ensemble Modern Orchestra (EMO/IEMA)
    Dirigent: Ingo Metzmacher, Voices: David Moss, Jocelyn B. Smith
    Station: Hannover
  • Martin Grütter: Allheilmittel für Orchester mit Klavier und Hyperklavier (2017) (Uraufführung)
    Bernhard Gander: Take Death für 20 Instrumente und DJ (2013)
    Martin Matalon: Spinning Lines für Klarinette, Horn, Violine, Orchester und Elektronik (2017) (Uraufführung)
    Ensemble Modern Orchestra
    Dirigent: Ilan Volkov, DJ: Patrick Pulsinger
    Station: Frankfurt