Ensemble InterContemporain is a Paris-based, world-renowned ensemble of thirty one full-time musicians dedicated to performing and promoting contemporary chamber music. It was founded by Pierre Boulez in 1972 for this purpose, the first permanent organization of its type in the world. Since then the Ensemble has toured extensively both in France and abroad, appearing especially at international festivals. Beyond performing they also have teaching and other outreach activities to support young musicians, composers and conductors.
The Ensemble consists of thirty one full-time soloists in various instruments, who are dedicated to the performance and promotion of contemporary chamber music written in the 20th and 21st centuries. They exist to fill a need for musicians who can work with new playing techniques and composition styles prevalent in this kind of music. The Ensemble is resident at the Philharmonie de Paris, under artistic director Matthias Pintscher and assistant director Julien Leroy, with their activities financed by the French Ministry of Culture and the city of Paris.
They perform about thirty times a year in their home city, and tour extensively both in France and abroad, especially at international festivals. These concerts regularly include the premieres of new compositions, often commissioned by the Ensemble itself, which gives preference to young composers who have not yet had their work performed by the organization. The Ensemble has over 2,000 contemporary works in their repertoire, much of which has been recorded and includes composers such as Elliott Carter, Luigi Dallapiccola, Luciano Berio, along with the complete works of Boulez, György Ligeti, György Kurtág, Alejandro Romero and Ivan Fedele.
Their support for composers goes beyond playing their work in public and includes collaborating with composers both in the creation and interpretation processes. One reason for this is that the techniques and composition style of contemporary music is significantly different from classical music, and composer notation systems vary, especially with the indications of these new techniques.
The Ensemble also supports young musicians which includes workshops at schools, master classes and more for conservatory students, professional and amateur musicians and training for conductors and composers. Since 2004 individual members have been tutoring young instrumentalists, conductors and composers in contemporary music as part of the Lucerne Festival Academy (Lucerne Festival). In addition, they collaborate with other kinds of artists from the fields of dance, theater, video and visual arts. The organization collaborates regularly with the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (Institute of Acoustic Music Research and Coordination) which sponsors research and concerts to showcase technological innovations in composition.
The Ensemble InterContemporain was founded in 1976 by composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, with the support of French Minister of Cultura Michel Guy and the collaboration of Nicholas Snowman. It is the first permanent contemporary music ensemble, founded to provide performers for contemporary chamber music.
The idea for the Ensemble came from Boulez’s experiences as part of the historical avant garde of Darmstadt, Germany in the 1950s, contemporary of Stockhausen, Berio, Ligeti and Nono. He began his career as a composer in contemporary music creating pieces such as Penser la Musique aujourd'hui (1964), Releves d'apprenti (1966), Par volonte et par hasard (1975), and Points de repere (1985), moving onto conducting orchestras such as New York Philharmonic (1971-1978) and the BBC Symphony Orchestra (1971-1975). He states that his first love is composition and noted the lack of venues to premiere and promote new music, so he created the Ensemble for playing and producing music, along with the Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique for academic work into the same field. The Ensemble was based at the Cité de la Musique in Paris from 1995 until 2015, when it moved to the Philharmonie de Paris. Boulez held the position of president, with Péter Eötvös becoming the first musical directed, appointed by Boulez in 1979. It has had several notable music directors including American David Robertson (1992–2000), Jonathan Nott (2000–2003), Finnish Susanna Mälkki (2006-2013) and the current director German Matthias Pintscher (September 2013– ) . Their model of organization and musical development has been followed by many groups since then.
The Ensemble has toured extensively to South America, Russia, Canada, the United States, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and most major cities of Europe. Recent performances include the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the Palacio de Bellas Artes (2007), Buenos Aires in 2012, the Festival Internacional Cervantino in 2014, and in honor of Pierre Boulez’s 90th birthday, a concert at the Barbican Center in London.
The EIC has recorded for a number of labels, including Deutsche Grammophon (music of Ligeti, Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg, Boulez and Unsuk Chin), and KAIROS (music of Alberto Posadas and Matthias Pintscher), Luca Francesconi, Philippe Manoury and Michael Jarrell. Recordings by the EIC have received multiple awards, including the Gramophone Award and the Diapason d'Or2013 : Matthias Pintscher, Bereshit ; Philippe Leroux, Totalsolo
2012 : Ondrej Adamek, Kameny ; Enno Poppe, Speicher III et Speicher IV ; Luc Brewaeyes, Fête à tensions ; Lu Wang, Past beyond ; Anthony Cheung, Dystemporal ; Einar Torfi Einarsson, Desiring-Machines
2011 : Marco Stroppa, Re orso ; Sean Shepherd, Blur ; Bernhard Gander, Take nine for twelve ; Johannes Maria Staud, Par ici ! ; Jacques Rebotier, R.A.S ; François Sarhan, Talea II
2010 : Michael Jarrell, La chambre aux échos ; Hèctor Parra, Caressant l'horizon ; Lucas Fagin, Lanterna magica ; Yann Robin, Vulcano