Ensemble Prizes ’23 to Ekmeles and NAMES

NAMES (c) Andreas Hechenberger
NAMES (c) Andreas Hechenberger

The Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation awards the two Ensemble Prizes ’23 to the vocal ensemble Ekmeles from New York and the Salzburg-based New Art and Music Ensemble NAMES. The award will be presented for the third time in 2023 to outstanding young ensembles and is endowed with 75,000 euros each.

With the Ensemble Prize, the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation annually supports two outstanding young ensembles. The Prize serves to further their artistic and structural development. Out of a large number of excellent applications from 16 countries, the American ensemble Ekmeles and NAMES from Austria prevailed this year. The decision was made by the Board of Trustees of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, whose members include Intendant Ilona Schmiel, violinist Carolin Widmann, and composers Isabel Mundry and Enno Poppe. The Prize was established in 2020 and will be awarded for the third time in 2023. It is endowed with €75,000 each.

The American ensemble Ekmeles is one of the few vocal ensembles worldwide that focus on contemporary music. The New York singers convince with a grandiose sound, outstanding precision and intonation, with which they master even the most difficult microtonal works. At the same time, Ekmeles strikes a good balance between new works and the repertoire of past decades.

“I’ve always been interested in what it means to be in tune. Ekmeles has been my primary outlet for this exploration, leading to the performances and premieres of works that explore microtones in myriad ways. Learning these microtonal scores takes extensive personal preparation and group rehearsal, as we learn new ways of singing and hearing together. This support from Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation will help us to fairly compensate our musicians for this unique artistic labor, and to give us the space to dream about what singing together can be,” says Jeffrey Gavett, Baritone and Director of Ekmeles.

The New Art and Music Ensemble (NAMES) from Salzburg pursues an approach with many different impulses. With eleven musicians from seven European countries, there is great cultural diversity. The ensemble builds bridges to other art forms such as performance, dance, visual arts and literature. As a democratically organized collective, NAMES has shaped its own unique style and aesthetic. For NAMES, the award of the Ensemble Prize is “a huge opportunity to continue to engage with the things that inspire us and to create a sustainable space for our creativity,” says Anna Lindenbaum, violinist of the ensemble. “It is great to see how each individual and we as an ensemble have developed over the last 8 years. The Ensemble Prize encourages us in our efforts to unite diverse artistic disciplines in one ensemble and to deal with transdisciplinary concepts. We are very happy to have the opportunity to continue with this and to always take on new challenges!” Marco Sala, clarinetist.

NAMES will be heard at the opening event of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation’s 50th anniversary at the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in Munich on February 28, 2023.

An online application for the Ensemble Prizes ’24 is open from Jan. 1 to March 15, 2023, at ensemblefoerderpreis.evs-musikstiftung.ch/en