S.E.M. Ensemble

Unfolding the past

A five-part series describing the history of music making at the S.E.M. Ensemble. The first two installments, "Part I. Introduction," and "Part II. The 1970's" are up now.

Part I. Introduction:

Part II. The 1970's:

Part III. The 1980's: Coming Soon

Part IV. The 1990's: Coming Soon

Part V. Ostrava Days / Looking Forward: Coming Soon

S.E.M. Ensemble was founded in 1970 in Buffalo, N.Y., as part of the Center of the Creative and Performing Arts at SUNY/Buffalo. In its time (1964 – 1980), the Center was one of the largest and most important new music performance organizations, providing creative fellowships for composers and performers from around the world.

Unlike a standard music ensemble, SEM has always been a “composer’s group.” Under the directorship of founder Petr Kotik, scores of composers and musicians have been associated with SEM over the years. To name a few: Julius Eastman, John Cage, Alvin Lucier, George Lewis, Garrett List, Laurie Spiegel, Christian Wolff, Richard Teitelbaum, Ben Neill, Jon Gibson, Amina Claudine Meyers, Christian Marclay, Morton Feldman, Muhal Richard Abrams, Earle Brown, Roscoe Mitchell, Pauline Oliveros, David Tudor and many others.

In the introductory segment, Petr Kotik recalls the background environment from which SEM emerged, shortly after his arrival from Europe in 1969. Each segment is narrated by Kotik, and is supplemented by excerpts of recordings – some live recordings of SEM go back to 1972 – plus photos and videos.
All of the music used in the series is available in full on our YouTube channel – just check the description under the videos. Please stay tuned over the coming months as we release the remaining installments of the series.

Upcoming Performances

NODO 2020 will take place from August 28-30 in Ostrava. Tickets and info can be found here!

Contact Us

S.E.M. Ensemble, Inc.
25 Columbia Place
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Phone: (718) 488-7659

Contact Dexter Dine, Managing Director at:

SEM at 50

This video has been uploaded to make up for the postponement of the "50 Years of the S.E.M. Ensemble" event, which was due to take place on April 1st, at the Czech Center in the Czech National Building in Manhattan. For more information on the Czech Center and this project, follow the link here.

We look forward to rescheduling this concert once conditions allow.


Christian Wolff Small Orchestra Piece (2019) (World premiere)
Ostravská banda, Petr Kotik, conductor
August 26, 2019 at Ostrava Days Festival

Robert Ashley The Mystery of the River (1991)
Thomas Buckner, baritone; Tom Hamilton, electronics
September 11, 2014 at Roulette Intermedium

Miya Masaoka States of Being, States of Becoming (2018) (World premiere)
S.E.M. Ensemble, Petr Kotik, conductor
December 19, 2018 at Paula Cooper Gallery

Julius Eastman Joy Boy (1972)
S.E.M. Ensemble
September 26, 2017 at Studio 1 of Czech Radio Ostrava

Petr Kotik Wednesdays at RW on Spring St (2019-20) (World premiere, first version)
Ostravská banda, Hana Kotkova, violin; Petr Kotik, conductor
August 30, 2019 at Ostrava Days 2019 Festival


This project and video were made in collaboration with the Czech Center New York.

S.E.M. Ensemble’s 2019-20 season has been made possible with the generous support of the New York State Council on the Arts in partnership with Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, The Amphion Foundation, The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, The Fritz Reiner Center for Contemporary Music, Virginia Dwan, Noni Pratt, Martina Forman, Allegra Fuller Snyder, Sheldon Berlow, Philip Foster, Julian Lethbridge, Raymond Learsy, Anthony Hume, Beth Greenberg & Jim Wright, Stephen Deutsch, and Renée Levine Packer. Special thanks to Paula Cooper, Werner Kramarsky, and Brooklyn District 33 Councilman Stephen T. Levin.


Recent News

"The World: Ostravská banda Solos" is a new video series from OCNM, with new music posted every Wednesday. The first video, featuring a new composition by Petr Kotik is up now!

Check out our video program "SEM at 50" here.

We have published excerpts from some of SEM's earliest reviews. Check them out here!

SEM's Emerging Composers Workshop took place from February 10th-14th. Applications for next season's workshop will be available in the fall!

Photos of SEM's concert at Paula Cooper Gallery on December 18th can be viewed here.