The 2020 Ensemble Festival for Contemporary Music is an initiative of the Forum Zeitgenössischer Musik Leipzig [FZML] and the ensemble Tempus Konnex.

The first edition of the biennial will focus on the East: the most distinguished ensembles for contemporary music from China (Ensemble ConTempo Beijing), Japan (Ensemble NOMAD) and Russia (Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble [MCME]) are collaborating in the musical city of Leipzig with two ensembles from Germany (Ensemble Musikfabrik, Tempus Konnex). The festival is centered on a discursive and provocative musical characterization of the present.

Numerous world premieres as well as European and German premieres are featured on a program that also continues to focus on music that plays with electronic music and media art. Moreover, promoting the next generation of talented young artists is an essential.

»As soon as the present becomes thought, it disappears.«

Hearing, and comprehending contemporary music is frequently challenging, because it is so alien to us. It deals with topics and questions which express themselves virulently, nebulously, and often only as artistic ›presentiment‹. It might be said that the present may only be spoken of in the context of the past, against whose constantly re-appraised descriptions it is courageously set. It is not uncommon for the term »presence« to refer to »shadows« which are infused with the spirit of their times.

Who decides what is of the moment, and what is not? Who decides which questions and problems are no longer necessary of treatment, and which ones, conversely, need still concern us? When can we even begin to speak of a ›new‹ chapter in music history?

We, the artistic direction of the international Ensemblefestival in Leipzig, have formulated a vision over the past year. In a city dominated musically by the baroque, the classical and the romantic, we want to send out a contemporary signal: to bring together people of diverse backgrounds and differing skills, knowledge, expectations, experiences and desires for a very limited, yet intense period of time. We want to focus on trends that reach back only as far as the most recently-lived present. The most positive outcome of this would be the collaboration of inquisitive enthusiasts, experts, music makers and music lovers as well as impartial listeners within the purview of the festival. That the presence of community in a physical space is necessary to addressing the question of contemporary music, and of its presence, has proved to be both a blessing and curse in 2020. The world-wide pandemic has caused us to rethink our concept.

Due to recent developments, it is no longer possible to gather together in Leipzig the musically innovative, new and unique from different countries into one festival – something we have been accustomed to do in the past. Contemporary music from Russia, Japan, China and Germany will, however, make itself felt from within its respective location: renowned ensembles will perform their planned concerts from home. The intention remains unchanged: The musicians will play a program selected to represent as authentically as possible the current developments of contemporary music as these vary from country to country.

The five ensembles with their individual qualities were originally to have been united as one festival ensemble for the final concert. Unfortunately, this is an ambition which also cannot be realized; for this reason, the Leipzig ensemble Tempus Konnex will now perform the final concert in spring 2021.

Our desire to discuss the music and art of our time in an international and diverse community is stronger than ever. We are pleased to invite you digitally to this event, the first of its kind in Leipzig, and wish you an exciting and enriching time. May it be full of musical impressions and new perspectives, interesting encounters and discussions.

With a warm welcome,

JiYoun Doo and Thomas Chr. Heyde