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New Music Ensemble

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 University of Cambridge New Music Ensemble was founded relatively recently, in 2007, by composer and conductor Ryan Wigglesworth.

The New Music Ensemble is currently directed by Richard Causton and designed to offer some of the best student instrumentalists the opportunity of working on 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. In 2014, the ensemble performed in the Harrison Birtwistle Festival ‘Secret Theatres: The Music of Harrison Birtwistle’ and more recently worked with Judith Weir and Mark Antony Turnage, the musicians Donna Bateman, Ligeti Quartet and the conductor, Patrick Bailey.

Our plans for the 2018-19 season are shaping up. We begin with a concert in Kettles Yard on 22 November as part of their New Music Series. On 23 February we are excited to be part of a brand new series 'Living Notes' that will be held in Stapleford Granary, a centre for the arts and music in south Cambridge. The concert will examine the concept of 'Opus 1s' and will include works by Benjamin Britten, Richard Causton and Julian Anderson, alongside student works.

For 2018-19, the ensemble has a new student president:


"Ten years since the founding of the New Music Ensemble at Cambridge, I am delighted to be joining the leadership of the ensemble this year as the first Student President of the society. This year is a very exciting year for the Ensemble, as we perform in some of the most established venues for contemporary music in and around Cambridge. In November, we are featured in the New Music series at the newly-reopened Kettle's Yard, in an exciting programme including a World Premiere of Robin Holloway's Autumn Music. Then, in February, we make our first appearance at Stapleford Granary, as part of the brand new Living Notes Series. Introduced by Donald McLoed, the series involves both performances and dialogues in an intimate setting and works by Julian Anderson, Richard Causton, and Cambridge PhD student Joy Lisney.  Throughout the year, members of the New Music Ensemble also meet in formal and informal settings to discuss and play our favourite pieces, and perform each others' works. In Easter Term, this years' ensemble will curate a concert based on the interests and forces of the current members. Membership of the ensemble is by audition, so don't forgot to sign up for your audition here or   if you have any questions!"

Naomi Woo - Student President 

Alongside its varied concert programme, the New Music Ensemble organises workshop opportunities; recent guests include Mark-Anthony Turnage, Judith Weir and Valgeir Sigurdsson of Bedroom Community. Composition workshops organised by Richard Causton offer weekly occasions for students to hear and discuss new ideas, whilst fortnightly listening sessions address exciting new music outside the classical canon.

Past repertoire includes music by Schoenberg, Knussen and Goehr; and musicians with whom the ensemble has worked include Claire Booth, Oliver Coates and Alexandra Wood.