Sir George Benjamin undertakes a concert tour with Ensemble Modern from March 3 to 11, performing in Frankfurt, London, Cologne and Hamburg

Sir George Benjamin is not only one of the most renowned composers of our times, but also a widely esteemed conductor. In March he conducts Ensemble Modern and the full-size Ensemble Modern Orchestra in seven performances at the Alte Oper Frankfurt (March 3), at Wigmore Hall and the Roundhouse in London (March 5/6), at Cologne’s Philharmonie (March 9) and at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg (March 10/11).


Ensemble Modern looks back upon almost 30 years of friendship and collaboration with Sir George Benjamin. The British-born composer has written three works for Ensemble Modern, including the lyrically poetic story “Into the Little Hill”, which the ensemble premiered in Paris in 2006 and has since performed approximately 40 times all over the world. “Into the Little Hill” recounts the medieval tale of the flute-playing rat-catcher who first lures the rats from the city and then abducts its children. The vocal parts will be sung by Anu Komsi (soprano) and Helena Rasker (contralto). “Into the Little Hill” is combined with works by Luigi Dallapiccola and Christian Mason as well as the world premiere of “Bright Ring” by the Australian composer and former Ensemble Modern oboist Cathy Milliken. On the second tour programme, the Ensemble Modern Orchestra performs George Benjamin’s “Palimpsests”, one of his major orchestral works, which is juxtaposed with music by Pierre Boulez, György Ligeti, Olivier Messiaen and the rarely-performed “Composition No. 2” by Galina Ustvolskaya.


George Benjamin was born in 1960 and began to compose smaller pieces at the age of seven. Starting in 1976, he was a student of Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire, subsequently studying with Alexander Goehr at King’s College Cambridge. His first orchestral piece, “Ringed by the Flat Horizon”, was performed at the BBC Proms. In 2002 the London Symphony Orchestra first performed “Palimpsests” at the Barbican Centre under the baton of Pierre Boulez. Ensemble Modern played the world premiere of his chamber opera “Into the Little Hill” in 2006. His most recent opera, “Lessons in Love and Violence”, had its world premiere at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London in 2018. George Benjamin unites two passions which, to him, form a contrast: conducting and composing. “I am a composer who conducts.” On tour with Ensemble Modern, George Benjamin pursues both those passions.


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