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 (EMO). 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 more than 30 years of existence. These include young instrumentalists and New Music specialists. Thanks to the support of the Federal Cultural Foundation, this model will be developed further from 2014 onwards, when the EMO opens its doors to the outstanding current and former fellows of the Master’s Degree course and to selected participants of international master classes of the International Ensemble Modern Academy (IEMA). A series of these joint projects of EMO and IEMA will be launched with a concert at the 2014 Kurt Weill Fest in Dessau. Subsequently the EMO, expanded by IEMA fellows, will also appear at the 2014 Ruhrtriennale, performing Louis Andriessen’s »De Materie«.

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. Its commissioned compositions include Heiner Goebbels' ›Walden‹ (world premiere 1998), Michael Gordon's ›Sunshine of Your Love‹ (world premiere 1999), Hanspeter Kyburz's ›Klavierkonzert‹ (world premiere of the full version 2000), and John Adams' ›Naive and Sentimental Music‹ (first European performance 1999), as well as works by Mark André, Enno Poppe, Jens Joneleit, Bruno Mantovani and Johannes Maria Staud. The EMO's ambitious concert programmes also confront new compositions with key works of modern times.

The EMO has performed orchestral compositions by Helmut Lachenmann, Charles Ives, Olivier Messiaen, Magnus Lindberg, Tristan Murail, George Benjamin, Luigi Nono, Harrison Birtwistle, Arnold Schoenberg, Pierre Boulez, György Ligeti, Franco Donatoni, Hans Abrahamsen, Igor Stravinsky, Edgard Varèse and Matthias Pintscher.

The EMO has been directed by a number of renowned conductors, such as John Adams, George Benjamin, Pierre Boulez, Peter Eötvös, Heinz Holliger, Ingo Metzmacher and Markus Stenz. Tours have taken the EMO to the major festivals and concert halls in Europe, including the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, European Music Month 2001 in Basel, Philharmonie Berlin, Alte Oper Frankfurt, Philharmonie Cologne, Lucerne Festival, RuhrTriennale, Festival d'Automne à Paris, Konzerthaus Vienna and many others.
It has produced several CDs: these include Charles Ives’ ›Fourth Symphony‹, George Benjamin’s ›Sudden Time‹, Helmut Lachenmann’s ›Schwankungen am Rand‹, Harrison Birtwistle’s ›Earth Dances‹ – conducted by Pierre Boulez – and ›Theseus Game‹. The label Ensemble Modern Medien has released Helmut Lachenmann‘s ›Kontrakadenz‹, ›NUN‹ as well as ›Ausklang/Eine Alpensinfonie‹ by Helmut Lachenmann and Richard Strauß with the EMO conducted by Markus Stenz.

The projects of EMO/IEMA are enabled by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes.