Zafraan Ensemble © Peter Gesierich

Zafraan Ensemble from Berlin is a young and multi-faceted group for contemporary music that has made a name for itself through innovative concert productions and its high musical quality. This is shown by the many prizes won in international competitions, and also by collaborations with some of the most important composers of our time.

The ensemble – made up of 10 musicians of diverse nationalities – was formed predominantly from graduates of the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin, where it has repeatedly won the competition for contemporary music, and has worked on projects with conductors such as Manuel Nawri, Titus Engel, André de Ridder, Premil Petrovic and Adrian Pavlov. Since its formation in 2009, Zafraan Ensemble has performed internationally on numerous occasions, and in doing so, it has developed a wide and varied repertoire. Regular workshops with young composers and instrumentalists give the members of the ensemble the opportunity to pass on their vast knowledge of contemporary music and performance, most recently during the Beijing International Composition Workshop 2013 and at events of the Akademie Musiktheater Heute and in cooperation with the Institut Klangzeitort Berlin in the season 2014/15.

A hallmark of the ensemble are dramaturgically astute programmes such as »Umbrüche ins Offene«, »Dans l’espace et les temps« and the series »People aren’t sounds, are they?«, as well as choreographed concerts such as »Der Einzelklang und die Musik«, »Palimpsesto«, in which different elements like dance, performance, poetry, and painting are united. Extending its focus also towards music theatre, in 2013 the ensemble made its debut at the Schauspiel Stuttgart (director: Ulrich Rasche) and at the Deutsche Oper Berlin (director: Daniel Pfluger) , and had widespread success with their staged production of the chamber opera »Hypermusic Prologue« by Hèctor Parra and Lisa Randall at the Sophiensaele Berlin and Gare du Nord Basel (director: Benjamin Schad).

Last year, the ensemble appeared not only in various concerts and performances, but also in a theatre production by Ulrich Rasche and Nis-Momme Stockmann in collaboration with composer Ari Benjamin Meyers, thereby giving its debut at Kampnagel Hamburg, Kunstfest Weimar and Schauspiel Frankfurt. In October 2014, the debut release »Palimpsesto« was published as CD-DVD on the label Testklang (distributed by Harmonia Mundi) and got rave reviews (Longlist 2015/01 of Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik). In March 2015, the ensemble presented its first collaboration with the artist Aliénor Dauchez, a scenic concert installation entitled »Démesure«, which could be seen again in Paris and Berlin in summer 2016. In addition the ensemble conducted workshops and concerts with the composers Evan Gardner and Antoine Daurat and will present their results in autumn 2016 in the form of performances and recordings.

Next to concerts in Berlin, Dresden, Hanover, Baden-Baden, Rottenburg and at the Forum Wallis there will be two house productions during the season 2015/16. The ensemble will make its debut at Ultraschall Festival with the programme »Klangrede« under the direction of Titus Engel, for which new works by Johannes Boris Borowski, Stefan Keller and Eres Holz could be commissioned with the support of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation. In addition, the concert experiment »alif::split in the wall« is being developed in partnership with Chiharu Shiota, Jeremias Schwarzer, Samir Odeh-Tamimi, Stefan Goldmann, Folkert Uhde, Ilka Seifert und Salome Kammer, which will have its premiere at MaerzMusik – Festival for Time Issues 2016. The project transfers principles of the exhibition practice of visual, installation and performance art on the musical form of the concert.

The ensemble is comprised of the following members: Liam Mallett (flute), Miguel Pérez Iñesta (clarinet), Martin Posegga (saxophone), Anna Viechtl (harp), Daniel Eichholz (percussion), Clemens Hund-Göschel (piano), Emmanuelle Bernard (violin/viola), Josa Gerhard (viola/violin), Martin Smith (cello) und Beltane Ruiz Molina (double bass).

In 2015 and 2016, Zafraan Ensemble is receiving a basic funding from the Senatskanzlei – Kulturelle Angelegenheiten of the federal state of Berlin.