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Curtis 20/21 Ensemble Presents Series of Twentieth Century Music, Streamed Live Dec 3

Following October's concert portrait of composer-in-residence Kaija Saariaho, Curtis's contemporary ensemble offers three additional performances in 2016-17

December 3 opening concert will be streamed live on Curtis Performs

[PDF format]

PHILADELPHIA—December 2, 2016—The Curtis 20/21 Ensemble performs in December, February, and March in a three-concert series exploring the Darmstadt school and its musical legacy. This musical triptych takes listeners on an arc from Europe to America and from the 1940s to today. Darmstadt is Curtis’s annual All-School Project, the focal point for artistic programs and the academic curriculum. The Darmstadt school of avant-garde composers emerged as the world was reeling from the Second World War, offering a structured system of musical values during a culturally turbulent era. These three Curtis 20/21 concerts feature the music of Darmstadt composers, as well as those who pushed back against the Darmstadt school’s orthodoxy.

In Gould Rehearsal Hall on Saturday, December 3 at 8 p.m., the ensemble presents “1948,” an exploration of this pivotal year in music history. The program of pieces by Stravinsky, Carter, Hindemith, and others examines the foundations of the Darmstadt school and the music of the young European avant-garde, including early electronic music. This concert will be streamed live at 8 p.m. EST on Curtis Performs (, and the video will remain online for a week. Free with a high-speed internet connection, the live stream can be viewed on any mobile device or desktop.

The following concert on Saturday, February 11 at 8 p.m. continues by charting the aesthetic impact of the Darmstadt school in the decades after 1948. “The New Yorkers” features music by John Cage and other Americans in the 1950s and 1960s. Influenced by the European composers at Darmstadt, the music of this New York school moved into new territories of experimentation.

The series concludes on Saturday, March 25 at 8 p.m. with “Beyond Darmstadt,” a concert focusing on one particular reaction in response to the European avant-garde: the music of American minimalists and neo-Romantics. With distinctly new and vibrant musical aesthetics, composers like Steve Reich came to redefine new music in the later 20th century, particularly in America.

To help familiarize audiences with the sometimes perplexing music of Darmstadt, Curtis composition student Emily Cooley and faculty member David Ludwig host a new video podcast on YouTube. “Revolution: Modernism” explores avant-garde and experimental music from the past and its impact on music today. Several episodes feature guest composers who add their unique perspectives to the discussion.

Flexible in size and scope, the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble performs a wide range of music from the 20th and 21st centuries, including works by Curtis students and alumni. The ensemble has appeared at major U.S. venues such as the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, and has presented concert portraits of iconic composers in residence John Corigliano, George Crumb, Krzysztof Penderecki, and Steven Stucky, among others. Of the ensemble’s Joan Tower portrait program, the New York Times wrote, “Ms. Tower could hardly have hoped for more passionate performances.” David Ludwig, the Gie and Lisa Liem Dean of Artistic Programs and Performance at Curtis and a member of the composition faculty, is the artistic director of Curtis 20/21.


Saturday, December 3 at 8 p.m.
Gould Rehearsal Hall, Lenfest Hall, 1616 Locust Street, Philadelphia

SCHAEFFER    “Étude aux chemins de fer”  from Cinq études de bruits
STRAVINSKY    “No Word from Tom”  from The Rake’s Progress
HINDEMITH      Sonata for Double Bass and Piano
CARTER           Woodwind Quintet
WALKER          Lyric for Strings
STRAVINSKY    “Come Master!”  from The Rake’s Progress

The years around 1948 marked the start of a Modernist revolution in music, as a new generation of rebellious composers produced wildly experimental work. The Curtis 20/21 Ensemble series begins in post-war Europe with the foundation of the early Darmstadt school and the (sometimes electronic) music of the young European avant-garde.

Free; no tickets or advance reservations required.



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