Over its 45 years of history, Ensems has provided a space for showcasing, creating, performing and reflecting upon the latest trends in music and sound from both the academic and artistic spheres. Ensems is the oldest festival for recently created music in Spain and has become one of the exemplary festivals in the new music and sound creation scene on an international level.

One of the Ensems Festival’s fundamental missions has been and continues to be to disseminate the creation and performance of music. The boost given to the work by local performers is a success for Ensems, acting as a catalyst for the processes used by groups committed to 20th and 21st century sounds in creating and performing their music. All in all, it also represents a significant means of support for the fabric of Valencian and Spanish musical creation, acting as a powerful generator of musical commissions for symphonic groups, chamber groups and professionals from the world of sound art. Such creators have achieved a remarkable track record and can boast a significant presence on regular calendars throughout Spain.

Finally, Ensems’ educational purpose is also worthy of note. Throughout its 45 years, it has concentrated its work on bringing the latest musical creations to the general public, ranging from the youngest audiences to adults and including students, fans and specialist audiences. A clear example of such effort can be seen in the Ensems Sound Creation Workshop (6th edition), the Composition Meetings (35th) and the introduction of the X-Ensems project, intended to bring new sound landscapes to artistic education centres where they usually find no place.

Ensems 2023. A cau d'orella

…omnibus auditur:
sonus est, qui vivit in illa.

…heard by all,
only its sound remains.
Metamorphoses III. Ovid

Sound has accompanied human beings since it has existed. We are what we are thanks to sound. For this reason, the slogan for the 45th ENSEMS festival, organised by the Institut Valencià de Cultura (Valencia Institute for Culture), is ‘A cau d’orella’ (‘Close to one’s ear’) We intend to focus our attention on the need to stimulate one’s hearing in a world increasingly crowded with stimuli of all kinds. We often talk about attention deficit, though perhaps it is not exactly that, but an excess of stimuli around us that prevents us from focusing on just one.

Several editions of Ensems have been seeking not to focus solely on the exhibition, but expanding its scope of action to foster projects aimed at carrying out proposals that bring together different ways of working with sound. This is the case of our educational project, which is a type of residency programme that takes place throughout the year with the involvement of music teachers and students from professional conservatories. There are also the creation workshops, which are already being held for the sixth time, with a public call to receive proposals, as well as collaboration with the Re_cre@ contest, a space to connect with the sector and do research concerning the living arts, focussing on different ways of manifesting sound.

With the perspective and track record provided by 45 editions of Ensems, some self-analysis would be useful. One pending task is to grow while generating more ongoing activity throughout the year, beyond the dates of the festival itself, with activities spread throughout the Valencia region. In this 45th Ensems, we are continuing to collaborate with different institutions to relocate some activities away from the city of Valencia, though it is true that the budget and logistics restrict the expansion of our activities as much as one would like. It would be possible to meet the great demand from the sector better with activities linked to other platforms at the local, nationwide or international level. Focusing on this year’s programme, we continue to have the privilege of being able to count on participation from the Valencia Municipal Symphonic Band, the Castellón Municipal Band, the Valencia Orchestra, the ADDA (Alicante Provincial Auditorium) Symphony orchestra and the Valencia Regional Youth Orchestra (JOGV, Jove Orquestra de la Generalitat Valenciana), which make it possible to take on a newly created symphonic repertoire.

We will have proposals from groups with Valencians among them, even if their residence is not exactly in Valencia. There are ensembles with great experience that are well-known by the Ensem’s public, combined with other recently formed ones of a spectacular level. Feedback Trío will be offering us a listening proposal through the uninhabited, through silence, “From the void…”. Arxis Ensemble, with a very demanding programme, is a recently-created group that has been reaping fantastic reviews. Grupo Enigma will also be at Ensems with The fabrication of light by Chaya Czernowin.

The New Yorker critic Alex Ross states that “Czernowin composes the negative beauty of disaster; it is the musical equivalent of Picasso’s Guernica.” They will also be presenting the world premiere by Llorenç Barber, ‘Sombra’ (‘Shadow’). Trío Musicalis will also be performing a world premiere by Hèctor Parra. Klexos, with ‘Cyborg music’, will explore the categories of objects inherited from nineteenth century tradition through new hybrid object categories using technological inclusions. Plural Ensemble, with the singer Yuko Kakuta, will also have a very attractive programme, with world premieres. Syntagma Duo be present, too, with a trilogy for two pianos and electronics by the composer Brigitta Muntendorf. It is a concerto that deals with the paradoxes of presence and absence. Dario Calderone will be taking us on a journey around the abysses of sound created by the communication between the performer and his instrument, the double bass, with ‘Voyage that never ends’ by Stefano Scodanibbio, considered the most interesting piece written for solo double bass. Fabrik Quartet, from Freiburg, who were the winners of the last Re-cre@ contest, are achieving some impressive successes despite their youth and short career, with a programme for string quartet that we cannot miss.
The fantastic SWR Vokalensemble will be presenting a programme with four premieres, including the commission from the IVC entrusted to David Moliner from Castellón. And finally, as for concerts, Ensemble Maja de Paris, a group that is beginning to make waves on the European scene with acknowledgement from specialist critics, are presenting us with a proposal based on ‘Aventures and Nouvelles aventures’ by G. Ligeti for three vocals and a small ensemble, along with works by S. Gervasoni and a world premiere by J. Tejera.

Furthermore, our collaboration with the Palau de les Arts will once again enable Ensems to open with a chamber opera by the European project ENOA (European Network Opera Academies): ‘Woman at point zero’, by LOD / Laila Soliman, Bushra El-Turk & and Hardy. We will also be welcoming the Mexican group Sono(soro)ridades, who will be carrying out a project based on the acoustic ecology of public laundries in Valencia, as sites for socialisation and for women and girls to meet, which brought about a web of aural relationships. The X-ENSEMS educational project this time will be featuring the Professional Music Conservatories of Cullera and Dènia, along with the students of composition from the CSMV (Valencia Higher Music Conservatory), Marc Alexandre and Mar Caballer. The basis for the theme will be the artist Eusebio Sempere, whose birth centenary is being celebrated, and his “mobile” sculptures, in addition to his Fluxus environment, with Actum in Valencia, and Llorenç Barber as a point of reference, in order to construct a project with different pieces connected to the theme of the city.

The 35th Composition Encounters, aimed at the professional sector, will see top-notch guests participating, such as Chaya Czernowin, Hèctor Parra, Nacho de Paz, Mercedes Zavala and Alicia Díaz de la Fuente. The 6th Creation Workshops will also be taking place with the JOGV and Feedback Trio, along with Chaya Czernowin and Hèctor Parra as mentors. In this year’s festival, the Valencia Institute for Culture (IVC) has commissioned works from Àngela Gómez, Isabel Latorre, David Moliner, José Luis Escrivà, Mercedes Zavala, Alicia Díaz de la Fuente and Fran Barajas. In addition, there will be around 25 activities in different formats, with more than 30 world premieres or works that are being performed for the first time in Spain. You can enjoy our programme at the MACA (Alicante Museum of Contemporary Art) and ADDA (Alicante Provincial Council Auditorium), the EACC Contemporary Art Space, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Auditori and Palau de Congressos of Castellón, in addition to the usual venues in Valencia: the Palau de les Arts, IVAM, the Higher Conservatory of Music and the “La Beneficència” Cultural Centre of the Provincial Council (Diputació) of Valencia. Once again, Ensems will be providing an intense, carefully-crafted programme dedicated to sound experimentation and unusual kinds of music, for which we can only give thanks for the support from all of the public and private institutions involved, once again. You are all invited to discover it.

“Somewhere, something incredible
is waiting to be known”
Carl Sagan

Voro Garcia
Ensems’ artistic director

Artistic direction
Voro Garcia
Pere Manuel
Dori Molina
Sonia Gil
José Ferriol
Design and coordination of X-Ensems
Núria Núñez
Design and coordination of X-Ensems
Neus Fontestad
Image and graphic design
Marta Negre
Institut Valencià de Cultura
Web design
Yinsen Studio
Audiovisual documentation
Contra Vent i Fusta
Gary Smith
Direction of the Institut Valencià de Cultura
Abel Guarinos
Associate Directorate of Music and Valencian Popular Culture
Marga Landete
With IVC staff