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American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME)

New York, NY      

The American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) is dedicated to the outstanding performance of masterworks from the 20th and 21st centuries, primarily the work of American composers. The ensemble presents fresh work by living composers alongside the classics of the contemporary. ACME’s dedication to new music extends across genres, and has earned them a reputation among both classical and rock crowds. NPR calls them contemporary music dynamos,” and The New York Times describes ACME’s performances as “vital,” “brilliant,” and “electrifying.” Time Out New York reports, “[Artistic Director Clarice] Jensen has earned a sterling reputation for her fresh, inclusive mix of minimalists, maximalists, eclectics and newcomers.” ACME was honored by ASCAP during its 10th anniversary season in 2015 for the “virtuosity, passion, and commitment with which it performs and champions American composers.”

ACME has performed at leading international venues including Carnegie Hall, BAM, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Kitchen, (Le) Poisson Rouge, Columbia University’s Miller Theatre, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Symphony Space, The Morgan Library, The Stone, Joyce Theater, Montclair’s Peak Performances, UCLA’s Royce Hall, Stanford Live, Constellation Chicago, Chicago’s Millennium Park, Jordan Hall in Boston, Harvard’s Sanders Theatre, The Library of Congress in DC, Virginia Tech, Newman Center at the University of Denver, Flynn Center, Duke Performances, South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center, Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center, The Satellite in Los Angeles, Triple Door in Seattle, Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis, Melbourne Recital Hall in Australia, and at festivals including All Tomorrow’s Parties in England and Big Ears in Knoxville, TN.

ACME’s instrumentation is flexible, and includes some of New York’s most sought-after, engaging musicians. Core ACME members include violinists Caleb Burhans, Ben Russell, Caroline Shaw (winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Music), Yuki Numata Resnick, and Laura Lutzke; violists Nadia Sirota and Caitlin Lynch; cellist and artistic director Clarice Jensen; flutists Alex Sopp and Andrew Rehrig; pianist Timo Andres; and percussionist Chris Thompson.

World premieres given by ACME include Ingram Marshall’s Psalmbook, Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Drone Mass, Caroline Shaw’s Ritornello, Phil Kline’s Out Cold, William Brittelle’s Loving the Chambered Nautilus, Jefferson Friedman’s On In Love, Timo Andres’ Senior and Thrive on Routine, Caleb Burhans’ Jahrzeit, Mick Barr’s ACMED, and many more.

ACME has recorded for New World, New Amsterdam, and Butterscotch Records. Its recording of Max Richter’s 8-hour piece, Sleep, was released by Deutsche Grammophon in fall 2015. In fall 2016, ACME’s recording with thereminist Carolina Eyck will be released on Butterscotch Records. ACME’s recording of ACMED, which the group commissioned from Mick Barr in 2012, will also be released this season. ACME’s discography includes Joseph Byrd: NYC 1960-63, the first commercial recording of the music of rediscovered American Fluxus composer Joseph Byrd, on New World Records. For New Amsterdam Records, ACME recorded William Brittelle’s electro-acoustic chamber work Loving the Chambered Nautilus and Jefferson Friedman’s On In Love with vocalist Craig Wedren.

ACME’s 2015-2016 season includes performances presented by BAM; the Sacrum Profanum Festival in Krakow, Poland; the Sydney Opera House; Washington Performing Arts in DC; MASS MoCA; Krannert Center; Walker Art Center; Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center; Five Boroughs Music Festival; Scandinavia House; and National Sawdust in Brooklyn. The season launched with a concert featuring the world premiere of new music written for the group by members Caroline Shaw, Caleb Burhans, Timo Andres, Ben Russell, and Clarice Jensen, presented by Five Boroughs Music Festival on September 11. In September, ACME made its European debut at the Sacrum Profanum festival in Poland, performing Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Drone Mass with celebrated vocal ensemble Theatre of Voices led by Paul Hillier. In New York in October, ACME joined Danish composers Carsten Bo Eriksen and Ejnar Kanding for two performances as part of Danish painter Hammershøi’s exhibition at Scandinavia House. In November, ACME performed at BAM in VisionIntoArt’s production Epiphany featuring music by Paola Prestini, Netsayi, and Sarah Kirkland Snider. ACME began its residency at National Sawdust in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in December with a week-long workshop period and concert featuring music composed during the residency by ensemble members (violin, viola, keyboards, cello, percussion). In February, ACME joined forces with Roomful of Teeth to present a concert of music by Caroline Shaw at Washington Performing Arts in DC. Later that month, ACME headed to MASS MoCA to workshop a new music theater work by Paola Prestini titled Aging Magician, which received its premiere at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in March. ACME will perform the piece again at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana, Illinois shortly after. In April, ACME will perform two concerts at The Kitchen featuring music by Julius Eastman, Charlemagne Palestine, Meredith Monk, Philip Glass, and Joseph Byrd. That month, they also return to National Sawdust for a second weeklong residency period, workshopping and performing new works by ensemble members. In May, ACME is in residence at Dartmouth College’s The Hop, where they will workshop and premiere a new piece commissioned for the group from composer Tristan Perich developed in partnership with the University’s mathematics department. In June, ACME travels to Sydney, Australia for two overnight performances of Max Richter’s 8-hour piece, Sleep, at the Sydney Opera House.

ACME’s many previous collaborators have included The Richard Alston Dance Company, Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance, Gibney Dance, Satellite Ballet, actress Barbara Sukowa, filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, Grizzly Bear, Low, Matmos, Micachu & The Shapes, Jeff Mangum, A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Roomful of Teeth, Lionheart, and Theo Bleckmann.

Since its first New York concert season in 2004, the ensemble has performed works by John Adams, John Luther Adams, Louis Andriessen, Gavin Bryars, Caleb Burhans, John Cage, Elliott Carter, George Crumb, Jacob Druckman, Jefferson Friedman, Philip Glass, Charles Ives, Donald Martino, Olivier Messiaen, Nico Muhly, Michael Nyman, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Frederic Rzewski, Joseph Byrd, Mick Barr, Arnold Schoenberg, Caroline Shaw, William Brittelle, Hauschka, Craig Wedren, Ingram Marshall, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Max Richter, Timo Andres, Lisa Bielawa, and Dustin O’Halloran, Toru Takemitsu, Kevin Volans, Charles Wuorinen, Iannis Xenakis, Phil Kline, Chen Yi, and more.

ACME was founded by cellist Clarice Jensen, conductor Donato Cabrera, and publicist Christina Jensen, and has received support from The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, New Music USA’s Cary New Music Performance Fund, and the Greenwall Foundation. 

ACME performs “Hello” by Caroline Shaw from “5×5”

ACME performed music by Caleb Burhans, Caroline Shaw, and Charles Ives presented by Five Boroughs Music Festival in NYC in fall 2015. The concert also included the world premiere of “5×5,” a suite featuring 5 movements written by 5 members of ACME – Caroline Shaw, Timo Andres, Ben Russell, Caleb Burhans, and Clarice Jensen.

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ACME performs “Jahrzeit” by Caleb Burhans

ACME performed music by Caleb Burhans, Charles Ives, and Caroline Shaw, presented by Five Boroughs Music Festival in NYC in fall 2015. The concert also included the premiere of a new work, 5×5, a suite of five movements featuring one movement by ACME members Caroline Shaw, Timo Andres, Caleb Burhans, Ben Russell, and Clarice Jensen.

Jahrzeit was commissioned and premiered by ACME, and written in memory of composer and ACME member Caleb Burhans’ father.

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ACME premieres Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Drone Mass at the Met Museum

ACME commissioned and premiered Drone Mass by Jóhann Jóhannsson to mark its 10th anniversary in 2015. The evening-length piece was premiered at the Met Museum in the Temple of Dendur with Roomful of Teeth, and described as “polished and exuberant” by Musical America.

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