The Faculty of Music has a long and distinguished history of supporting new music, not least through the appointment of internationally recognised composers such as Alexander Goehr, Hugh Wood and Robin Holloway to its teaching staff. However, the Cambridge University New Music Ensemble (CUNME) was founded relatively recently, in 2007, by composer and conductor Ryan Wigglesworth. Two ideas lay behind its creation. First, the ensemble is designed to offer some of the best student instrumentalists the opportunity of working alongside young professional musicians in performances of the ‘classics’ of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. At the same time, the ensemble is intended to give student composers the chance to have their works performed by musicians experienced in playing new music.
CUNME draws inspiration and support from the New Music Associates at Kettle’s Yard – currently, Stephen Montague. During 2010-11 the ensemble was led by Music undergraduate Joe Snape and postgraduate composer Kate Whitley, and performance highlights included a John Cage Musicircus, Penderecki’s Threnody, Johnny Greenwood’s Popcorn Superhet Reciever, and a remix collaboration with players from the University’s Collegium Musicum. Alongside its varied concert programme, CUNME organizes workshop opportunities; recent guests include Nico Muhly and Valgeir Sigurdsson of Bedroom Community. Composition workshops organized by John Hopkins offer weekly occasions for students to hear and discuss new ideas, whilst fortnightly listening sessions address exciting new music outside the classical cannon.
Past CUNME repertoire includes music by Schoenberg, Knussen and Goehr; and musicians with whom the ensemble has worked include Claire Booth, Oliver Coates and Alexandra Wood.