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.
Alongside its varied concert programme, CUNME organises workshop opportunities; recent guests include Nico Muhly and Valgeir Sigurdsson of Bedroom Community. Composition workshops organised 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 canon. CUNME also had an involvement with the Harrison Birtwistle Festival ‘Secret Theatres: The Music of Harrison Birtwistle’, run in November 2014 under the direction of composer and Music Faculty lecturer Richard Causton.
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.