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Honour and Pleasure

When critics and newspapers worldwide write about Ensemble Modern, an abundance of superlatives is to be expected. The ensemble prefers inventiveness, so they described themselves as "a curious loudspeaker for the music of our times: courageous, uncompromising, energetic. An essential, aesthetically polyglot amplifier for trend-setting sound concepts."

Founded in 1980 in Frankfurt on the Main, this group of exceptional musicians hailing from Europe, Israel, Japan, and the United States functions as a democratic association of top-notch soloists, where musicians collectively decide on the artistic projects, partnerships, and the group's finances. This is one reason they can boast a unique, broad aesthetic spectrum, encompassing orchestral and chamber concerts, multimedia, and even dance projects.

Each year, they study and perform an average of seventy new pieces, approximately twenty of them being world premieres. Many of these new compositions are written specifically for them, as the ensemble's valuable asset is the carefully woven and globally extended network of close and long-standing creative connections and friendships with leading contemporary composers. The list is long and prestigious, consisting of John Adams, Mark Andre, George Benjamin, Unsuk Chin, Peter Eötvös, Brian Ferneyhough, Heiner Goebbels, Hans Werner Henze, Heinz Holliger, Mauricio Kagel, György Kurtág, Helmut Lachenmann, György Ligeti, Cathy Milliken, Brigitta Muntendorf, Olga Neuwirth, Enno Poppe, Steve Reich, Wolfgang Rihm, Rebecca Saunders, Iris ter Schiphorst, Simon Steen-Andersen, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Frank Zappa, Hans Zender, and Vito Žuraj, among others.

The latter will also contribute to the closing concert of our festival. Alongside Žuraj's work, the programme, which will also be presented in Frankfurt in the realm of the prestigious Frankfurt Book Fair, also includes compositions by Matej Bonin, Nina Šenk, Petra Strahovnik, and Vinko Globokar. This exciting cross-section of contemporary Slovenian classical music can no doubt be regarded as one of the highlights of this year's Festival Maribor and a great tribute to Slovenian music in general. For the selected composers, having their work performed by musicians of such esteem is undoubtedly a great honour. For us, the listeners, it will be a great pleasure!

Text by: Maja Pirš 

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