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Portrait: Mission and Vision of the Ensemble Intercontemporain

© Luc Hossepied

The internationally renowned Boston Conservatory at Berklee has invited five members of the Ensemble Intercontemporain for a short residency in 2021 supported by the Jazz & New Music program of the FACE Foundation in collaboration with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. The Boston Conservatory at Berklee is a top performing arts institution in America and among the World's top Music Colleges according to Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, and Forbes. The residency of the Ensemble Intercontemporain at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee is therefore a unique opportunity for French musicians to present their knowledge in contemporary music to a group of exceptional American students. This type of educational exchange is familiar to the Ensemble Intercontemporain, known for its commitment to promoting music education. During this residency, in keeping with the ensemble's focus on education, Jens McManama, John Stulz, Emmanuelle Ophele, Samuel Favre and Sebastien Vichard will work alongside student composers and performers, offering coaching sessions, masterclasses, and rehearsals. They will also present 3 to 5 public concerts with student ensembles or with students and alumni from the Contemporary Classical Music Performance Program.

Pierre Boulez, father of the Ensemble Intercontemporain

The Ensemble Intercontemporain is well renowned in the field of new music, not only because it was created by Pierre Boulez, a famous figure of the 20th-century avant-garde music scene, but also because the Ensemble maintains its freshness with its artistic creations and performances, as well as with its objectives in musical education for young musicians and the public. 

Let's go back to the beginnings of this Ensemble to discover its path and its place in the universe of the new music today...

Pierre Boulez was a world-renowned French composer and conductor at the cutting edge of modernity. In 1976, he created the Ensemble Intercontemporain with the support of the Secretary of State for Culture, Michel Guy, and with the help of Nicholas Snowman. He opened a new path into the classical field by composing innovative scores including Notations I to IV (1980), Répons (1981), Incises (1995) among others, reflecting the current history of the second half of the twentieth century. Through Pierre Boulez's innovative vision, the Ensemble Intercontemporain is part of an institutional and cultural renewal in France. Indeed, during the same period in which the ensemble was founded, France welcomed the creation of the Centre Beaubourg, the Musée d’Art Moderne (Museum of Modern Art), and the Institut de Recherche et Coordination acoustique/Musique (IRCAM). Firmly belonging to this cultural turning point, the Ensemble Intercontemporain with its thirty-one soloists already had a clear destiny: to be among the leading performance organizations devoted to the exploration of the music of our time. 

When Pierre Boulez died, many wondered if the Ensemble Intercontemporain would not disappear with him. However, on the contrary, the Ensemble Intercontemporain has become a precious legacy of Boulez's career and continues to evolve under the artistic direction of Matthias Pintscher. Today, the Ensemble Intercontemporain responds to innovative commissions, explores a variety of artistic expressions, and participates in new projects with, for example, the inclusion of new multimedia and sound production technologies.

Permanent resident of the Cité de la musique – Philharmonie de Paris, the Ensemble performs many captivating concerts in this place of excellence. You can find their latest performances here, on the Philharmonie de Paris Live website, and discover below what the Ensemble Intercontemporain is today:

Music education by the Ensemble Intercontemporain

Since its creation, the Ensemble Intercontemporain's major concern has been the training and education of composers, musicians, conductors, and the public. Indeed, action that supports the education of the public and especially of children is a worthwhile pursuit, as it is their appetite for music that will ensure the sustainability of musical institutions into the future. Promoting educational programs in schools can catalyze a musical awakening among students, and help popularize concerts, which leads to a positive dynamic between young people and the world of classical and contemporary music. Furthermore, masterclasses, conferences, concerts, and even rehearsals with young musicians and composers allow this new generation to learn from and perform with members of the world-renowned new music chamber ensemble and interact with the professional world. Thus, the residency of the hornist Jens McManama, the viola player John Stulz, the flutist Emmanuelle Ophele, the drummer Samuel Favre, and the pianist Sebastien Vichard is an important opportunity for students of the Boston Conservatory at Berklee. 
This residency represents an opportunity for different generations of artists to interact and is a chance to promote new music as well as to strengthen Franco-American ties in the musical field.

About the Boston Conservatory at Berklee

Founded in 1867, Boston Conservatory is the nation’s oldest performing arts conservatory to offer fully accredited programs in dance, music, and theater that train exceptional young performing artists for careers that enrich and transform the human experience. Known for its multidisciplinary environment and deep community engagement, the school is internationally recognized as an innovative leader among conservatory programs, focused on elevating and celebrating every aspect of the performing arts. With its groundbreaking programming and its 700-plus annual performances, the institution has established itself as an important voice in the movement to make all forms of performing arts a more visible and valued dimension of communities, both locally and abroad. In 2016, the Conservatory merged with Berklee to become the most complete and comprehensive performing arts institution in the world. 
The value added for young musicians at Boston Conservatory at Berklee is the meaningful exposure to a full range of music, from classical to contemporary classical, to opera and musical theater, to entirely new works that span all genres and styles.

This residency of Ensemble Intercontemporain has been made possible through the Jazz & New Music, a program of FACE Foundation and Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States with support from the Florence Gould Foundation, the French Ministry of Culture, Institut français-Paris, Bureau Export and Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs de Musique (SACEM).