S.E.M. Ensemble


Upcoming Concerts

  S.E.M. Ensemble


a complete 6-hr performance of

Many Many Women

Life World

Gowanus, Brooklyn

$15 (tickets available here)


Friday, June 3rd, 2022

6pm to Midnight

(Can't come at 6? Come at 7)

(Can't come at 7? Come at 8)

(Can't come at 8? Come at 9)

(And so forth, and so forth)

A monument from the 1970s - a durable classic, vast in scale, rich in polyphony, resonant in cultural associations, Many Many Women is Kotik's early masterpiece.

                                                                  - Kyle Gann, 1999

Petr Kotik's music, is consistently strong and distinctive (and he likes to make it long). And, I think Many Many Women is a 20th century masterpiece.
                                                                  - Christian Wolff, 2022

On June 3rd, at 6pm, S.E.M. Ensemble will present Petr Kotik's Many Many Women. This will be the first of many performances of the work this year, in Europe and the US.

Many Many Women  (1975-78) uses text from Gertrude Stein’s novellas of the same name. The composition is for six vocalists, two flutes, two trumpets, and two trombones, and spans six-hours of uninterrupted performance.

Many Many Women consists of 173 sections across 378 pages of score. Although traditionally notated, the simultaneous performance of various sections are determined by the performers, who intuitively improvise their entrances, creating a musical flow of unpredictable configurations. The music can be described as a non-dramatic "situation" without a clear beginning or ending.

Petr Kotik began composing for voice in 1971, as the result of his close collaboration with the composer and singer Julius Eastman (a founding member of S.E.M. Ensemble).  Kotik was already using the writings of Gertrude Stein for the first composition he wrote for Eastman. Many Many Women is the culmination of Kotik's series of Stein-related compositions. The duration of the complete piece is the result of Kotik's use of the whole text of the novella.

The audiences can either remain for the entire duration, or enter and exit at will. There will be a comfortable foyer available for socialization and refreshments. This concert is a collaboration with Life World in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

S.E.M. Ensemble is performing Many Many Women at 6pm on June 3rd at Life World (Gowanus, Brooklyn). The specific address is given upon purchase of a ticket. The performance is approx. 6 hours. The audience is free to leave and return at any time. Tickets - $15, advance.

Tickets available here: or on Life World's website at

Please email us at of you have any difficulties RSVP-ing

About the Composer:
Although, as a composer, Petr Kotik is regarded as self-taught, he undertook rigorous musical training both in Prague and at the Akademie für Musik in Vienna. In Prague, he took private lessons with the Czech composer Jan Rychlík. Rychlík has been a source of inspiration and admiration for Kotik throughout his life (similar to Philip Glass's admiration for Nadia Boulanger). Rychlík's work and ideas were far ahead of his time. In the late 1950s, he began to work with phase music based on African drumming, similar to Steve Reich's compositions more than a decade later. Rychlík's early beginnings as a jazz player as well as his scholarly research into music practice led him to understand and appreciate the significance of improvisation, almost half a century before it became part of the avant-garde. It is possible that the unconventional openness of Rychlík, together with the writings of Cage, which Kotik discovered at the age of eighteen, may have influenced the composer's way of thinking at his very early stage.

About SEM:

SEM is dedicated to the performance and advancement of new music, with a focus on current compositions. Since its inception in 1970, SEM has collaborated with composers who have also often performed with the group. They have included Earle Brown, John Cage, Alvin Lucier, Morton Fedman, Alvin Singleton, Leroy Jenkins, Pauline Oliveros, Elliott Sharp, Jackson Mac Low, Roscoe Mitchell, Phill Niblock, David Tudor and Christian Wolff, among others. 

About Life World:

Located in the heart of the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, Life World is an ephemeral cannery-adjacent event space for performance, cinema, and more. Life World was founded in 2020 and is artist-led.



Petr Kotik receives 2022 John Cage Award


On January 27th, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts announced its 2022 awards, with 20 artists recognized in the fields of dance, music & sound art, performance art & theater, poetry, and the visual arts. Among the grantees is Petr Kotik, who receives the 2022 John Cage Award.

Since 1992, the John Cage Award has been given biannually to a composer, musician, or performance artist who has contributed to challenging cultural horizons in the spirit of John Cage. Past awardees include Toshi Ichiyanagi, Phill Niblock, Pauline Oliveros, Robert Ashley, Earle Brown, Christian Wolff, Takehisa Kosugi, and David Tudor.

Kotik had previously been awarded a Grant to Artists by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in 1996.  

The Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA) was founded in 1963 by John Cage and Jasper Johns with the support of artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Willem de Kooning, Marcel Duchamp, Alex Katz, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Barnett Newman, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, Frank Stella and Andy Warhol. More information on the FCA's history can be found here.

SEM congratulates Petr and the other grantees on this achievement.


Recent News

On February 17th, SEM held the 2022 Emerging Composers Workshop and Concert  – See our Instagram for photos.

Petr Kotik has received the 2022 John Cage Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Learn more here.

New York Classical Review published a review of our recent holiday concert. Read it here!

The Brooklyn Rail published a review of Ostrava Days. Check it out here!

Ostrava Days 2021 took place from August 9 - 28. For more information about the Institute and Festival, click here.

SEM's 2020-21 season concluded in June. Explore it here.

SEM's New Music Outdoors I concert is now available to watch on YouTube.

OCNM has published a video of SEM's performance John Cage's "Song Books I, II" at the NODO 2018 Festival. Watch it here.

Check out the first two segments of "Unfolding the Past" on SEM's history here! More soon.

Contact Us

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

Phone: (718) 488-7659

Contact Emma Minges, coordinator,

S.E.M. Ensemble’s 2021-22 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, The Fromm Music Foundation, The Low Road Foundation, Sheldon Berlow, Stephen J. Deutsch, Virginia Dwan, Martina Forman, Philip Foster, Allegra Fuller Snyder, Beth Greenberg and Jim Wright, Charlotta Kotik, Raymond Learsy, Julian Lethbridge, Rotraut Moquay, and Noni Pratt. Special thanks to Paula Cooper, Jasper Johns, Werner Kramarsky, and Brooklyn District 33 Councilman Lincoln Restler.