Curtis 20/21 Ensemble

The Future of Tradition

Works from the 20th and 21st centuries form the heart of the 20/21 Ensemble's repertoire. With a rich legacy of bold collaborations and striking productions, 20/21 embraces the cutting edge of musical exploration through the highest level of artistry. This season's offerings are inspired by the current all-school project, The Edge Effect





Succession: The Zorá String Quartet Performs New Works by Curtis Student Composers

May 4 at 8 p.m. 

Gould Rehearsal Hall
1616 Locust Street

Ecological “succession” describes a gradual change in an environment as species influence each other over time, replacing old systems with new ones. The increasing use of technology is a kind of succession in music, as electronics allow composers to explore nearly endless possibilities of sound and color. The six student composers of the Curtis composition department create works for the Curtis resident string quartet in a program presented with the help of composer Tod Machover, a pioneer in technology and art. A pre-concert talk hosted by 20/21 artistic director David Ludwig will begin at 7:30 p.m. After the concert, student composers will join Dr. Ludwig for a panel discussion further exploring the works presented.



20/21 Ensemble Video

Past Performances

Ecotone: Selected Works for Solo Instruments

October 31 at 8 p.m.
Gould Rehearsal Hall
1616 Locust Street 

An ecotone is an area of transition between two environments. This concert features a selection of solo instrumental compositions that combine virtuosic technique with theatrical performance. From Aaron Jay Kernis’s outrageous Superstar Etude No. 1 to R. Murray Schafer’s mythically inspired The Crown of Ariadne,each work transforms the musician into a dramatic and dynamic character on stage.

BERIO Sequenza V
KERNIS  Superstar Etude, No. 1
KIRSTEN  Pirouette on a Moon Sliver
SCHAFER  The Crown of Ariadne
SMITH The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit


Chen Yi, Composer in Residence

December 1 at 8 p.m. (7:30 p.m. Pre-concert talk with Chen Yi and David Ludwig) 
Gould Rehearsal Hall
1616 Locust Street
TICKETS: No tickets or advance reservations are required. Seating is first-come, first-served.

December 2 at 8 p.m.
Miller Theatre at Columbia University
2960 Broadway, New York
This performance is part of Curtis on Tour, the Nina von Maltzahn global touring initiative of the Curtis Institute of Music.

Shaped by her experience coming of age during China's Cultural Revolution, Chen Yi embodies the edge effect: Her early influences include both Chinese traditional music and Western classical music. Chen Yi is a master of contemporary technique and a strong advocate for music’s power to connect audiences of different cultural backgrounds. The 20/21 Ensemble will take on her active and engaging chamber works, including the evocative Happy Rain on a Spring Night and the iconic Sparkle.


The Edge Effect: Composers and their Environmental Influences

February 24 at 8 p.m.
Gould Rehearsal Hall
1616 Locust Street

Edge effects occur in those small regions of overlap between two different habitats, creating greater levels of biodiversity. Composers who are inspired by extramusical forces generate new and unique sounds for voice and instruments. This concert presents an iconic 20th-century work that responded to turbulent times through words, music, and theater: Arnold Schoenberg’s groundbreaking Pierrot Lunaire. David Ludwig, Chair of Composition Studies and director of the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble, takes the audience through this extraordinary work.

Generous support for the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble is provided by the Daniel W. Dietrich II Foundation.