S.E.M. Ensemble


2016 - 2017 Concert Season

Coming up: 

SEM at Paula Cooper Gallery's Sol LeWitt Exhibit: Tues. Oct. 11, 8 pm

SEM at Forum Karlin, Prague, CZ: Sat. Nov. 19, 7 pm

Upcoming Concert

S.E.M. Ensemble at Paula Cooper Gallery

Sol LeWitt Exhibition

534 W. 21st St. New York, NY

Tues. October 11, 2016, 8:00 pm

Tickets: $15 advance, $20 same day

available here from Brown Paper Tickets

Patron tickets: $300

includes reserved prime seating, $285 tax-deductible donation

To purchase, contact SEM directly at (718) 488-7659 or


Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #368, Paula Cooper Gallery



Petr Kotik:   William William (2016) American premiere
                                   Choreography by Matilda Sakamoto

Alvin Lucier:   Navigations for Strings (1991)

Alvin Lucier:   Love Song (2016) World premiere


S.E.M. Ensemble

Lucy Dhegrae, Soprano; Jake Ingbar, Baritone; Adrian Rosas, Bass;

Debra Kay Anderson, Narrator; Conrad Harris and Pauline Kim Harris, Violin;

Liuh-Wen Ting, Viola; Caleb van der Swaagh, Violoncello; John Altieri, Tuba

Petr Kotik, Conductor


Matilda Sakamoto, Victor Lozano, Alex Andison, Connor Bormann

"SEM continues to play a critical role in New York's musical life."
- The Guardian, May 9, 2016

SEM at Paula Cooper Gallery, December 2015


I am delighted to present a concert during the Sol LeWitt exhibit. Although Sol and I never met, he has, since the 1980s, regularly supported SEM. The music we perform must have been the reason. More than often, our programs are not in line with the prevailing trends or popular taste of the moment. Together with other artists, composers, and music followers, LeWitt’s support gave us the encouragement to go forward, because one cannot do it alone. That is certain.

Every generation struggles with the impossible task to redefine its art, not for the sake of doing something new – that itself is not interesting. We have to redefine our work because using the means from the past is banal in the view of every day’s new reality. Nothing changes from generation to generation except composition (Gertrude Stein). The meaning of the work continues to be unabated, but the composition has to change as the world around us changes. When one paints, draws, or creates objects, listening is more important than looking. A composer on the other hand must shut his or her ears because for a composer, looking is more important than listening. This may be the reason why music and art have been close companions for generations.

The wall drawings by Sol LeWitt are case in point. They are closer to music than to the way we understand visual art. All the fundamentals of music composition are here in place: there is a score (i.e. instruction for the realization), there are performers (who execute the score), and there is duration for the piece to exist. What has been actually redefined here – art or music?

                                                        – Petr Kotik


SEM and dancers perform Kotik's William William at NODO 2016, Ostrava, Czech Republic


I met Sol first through Andrea Miller-Keller who was his most eloquent and important friend and critic. Andrea suggested that Sol and I exchange works.

Sol was known for his ecumenical taste in art and had a huge collection of works by hundreds of artists. He gave me a wall drawing (#724) and I reciprocated with the hand written score of my quartet, Navigations for Strings. I was doubly honored that he later borrowed a panoramic photograph of part of the Swiss Alps that I had used in Panorama, a duo for piano and trombone, for Zug III, a gorgeous multi-colored wall drawing. More recently he asked me to supply music for his Curved Wall, an enormous sculpture first shown in Graz, Austria, later at Wesleyan. Sol LeWitt was the most kind and generous artist I have ever known.

                                                            – Alvin Lucier


Kotik conducts the premiere of Lucier's Orpheus Variations, November, 2015


past Concerts

S.E.M. Ensemble at NODO

New Opera Days Ostrava

June 27-30, 2016

Ostrava, Czech Republic


World premieres:

Petr Kotik                            William William

Petr Cígler                           Protracted Sinuous Movement of a Longitudinal Object

Idin Samimi Mofakham  

& Martyna Kosecka            At the Waters of Lethe

Richard Ayres                     No. 42 (In the Alps) (staged premiere)


Gyorgy Ligeti                       Aventures & Nouvelle Aventures

Iannis Xenakis                    Oresteia


Members of the S.E.M. Ensemble participated as soloists and members of the international chamber orchestra Ostravská banda:

Bohdan Hilash, Clarinet

Thomas Verchot, Trumpet

Conrad Harris, Violin

Pauline Harris Kim, Violin

Adrian Rosas, Voice

Matilda Sakamoto, Dancer

Colin Fuller, Dancer

Petr Kotik, Conductor (Ligeti, Kotik, Xenakis)


For full program and more information about NODO, click here. 

Kotik's William William at NODO, image courtesy of Ostrava Center for New Music

Xenakis's Oresteia at NODO, image courtesy of Ostrava Center for New Music


Bohemian National Hall

Monday May 9, 2016 8:00


Premieres by Roscoe Mitchell and Petr Kotik

Works by George Lewis, Lucie Vitkova, John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen

Following last year’s highly touted AACM@50 concerts, the S.E.M. Ensemble, led by conductor, composer, and flutist Petr Kotik, returns to the Bohemian National Hall for a  concert on Monday, May 9, featuring contemporary works and two world premieres.


Petr KotikString Noise William (2016)

George Lewis - Not Alone (2014-15)

Lucie Vitkova - Places to Meet (2016)

John Cage - Ryoanji (1985)

Roscoe Mitchell - They Rode for Them (2016)

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Zeitmaße (1956)



The Bohemian National Hall is located at 321 E. 73rd St., New York, NY

More info: (718) 488-7659 or


Darmstadt New York: 70th Anniversary

Roulette Intermedium

Wednesday May 11, 2016 8:00

Works by John Cage, Petr Kotik, Morton Feldman,

Alvin Singleton, and Karlheinz Stockhausen

As part of this year’s Essential Darmstadt Repertoire Series, the S.E.M. Ensemble, led by conductor, composer, and flutist Petr Kotik, returns to the Roulette Intermedium for an  evening of 20th century classics on Wednesday, May 11.


Petr Kotik - Music for 3 (1964)

Alvin Singleton - Be Natural (1974)

Morton Feldman - Why Patterns? (1978)

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Zeitmaße (1956)

John Cage - Concert for Piano and Orchestra (1958)



Roulette Intermedium is located at 509 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, NY.

More info: (718) 488-7659 or


Preview Concert

Willow Place Auditorium

Sunday May 8, 2016 8:00

Works by John Cage, Petr Kotik, George Lewis, Roscoe Mitchell,

and Karlheinz Stockhausen

Join us for a preview of the SEM Ensemble’s May 2016 offering at the intimate Willow Place Auditorium in Brooklyn Heights. Concert will be followed by a reception.


George Lewis Not Alone (2014/15)

Petr Kotik Music for 3 (1966)

Petr KotikString Noise William (2016)

John CageRyoanji (1985)

Roscoe MitchellThey Rode for Them (2016)

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Zeitmaße (1956)

 Improvisation - featuring Thomas Buckner, George Lewis, Roscoe Mitchell, Chris Nappi, Sara Schoenbeck, and Lucie Vitkova


Free admission. (Suggested donation of $20)

Willow Place Auditorium is located at 26 Willow Place, Brooklyn NY.

More info: (718) 488-7659 or



   Emerging Composers Workshop 2016







The S.E.M. Ensemble, led by conductor, composer, and flutist Petr Kotik, returns to the Willow Place Auditorium for a workshop and reading of new works by emerging artists.



David Louis Zuckerman - Per Diem

Tai-Kuang Chao - a story about an auction/the corners of the world: a      refrigerator that makes people want to stock romance

James Falzone - Helical Cannon

Anthony Donofrio - Piano Trio

Chang Seok Choi - Animus


Willow Place Auditorium is located at 26 Willow Place, Brooklyn NY, 11201. Admission is free (but contributions are appreciated).

More info: (718) 488-7659 or

annual Holiday Concert








The S.E.M. Ensemble, led by conductor, composer, and flutist Petr Kotik, returns to the Paula Cooper Gallery’s main space for its annual holiday concert on Saturday, December 19, 2015 (8 p.m.). A tradition started in 1984, the evening will feature contemporary works, along with rarely heard early music.



Iannis Xenakis - Kassandra (1987)

Eli Greenhoe - Etymology (2015)

Pavel Jan Vejvanovsky - Sonata la posta (1680)

Alvin Lucier - Orpheus Variations (2015) - U.S. premiere

Pavel Jan Vejvanovsky - Serenata in C (1685) - U.S. premiere

Liisa Hirsch - Four Glides (2015) - Premiere

Petr Kotik - Reiterations and Variables (1972 - 2015)


*Additionally, a preview concert will be held at the S.E.M. Ensemble's home and studio at Willow Place Auditorium on Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 7:30pm


Paula Cooper Gallery is located at 534 West 21st Street, NY. Tickets are $15/10 (advanced sale); $20/15 (at door).

To order tickets:

More info: (718) 488-7659 or

Willow Place Auditorium is located at 26 Willow Pl, Brooklyn Heights, NY. Free



The SEM Ensemble is preparing for a series of performances at the Ostrava Days 2015 Festival. There are several major events that the SEM Ensemble is participating in, including an opening night featuring music for three orchestras, among them Gruppen by Karlheinz Stockhausen and Variations by Petr Kotik.

We are now rehearsing the opera Master-Pieces by Petr Kotik with its entire cast, narrators, and orchestra. The stage director Jiří Nekvasil (also director of the national Moravian-Silesian theater in Ostrava) is in New York, preparing for the performance at Ostrava Days, which will take place on August 28th, 2015.

Want to see the dress rehearsal?


SEM Ensemble Open Studio

An open rehearsal and preview of Petr Kotik’s Master-Pieces will be held at our home and studio at Willow Place Auditorium in Brooklyn Heights. The public is invited to join us as we workshop and perform selections from the opera.





Tuesday, July 28th 4:30-6:00

26 Willow Place, Brooklyn, 11201

Brooklyn, NY 11201


Just missed...


Dr.Faustus: Composers' Project

The concert will feature five world premieres of works for solo instrument and electronic sounds by composers Elizabeth Adams, André Brégégère, Nicholas R. Nelson, Inés Thiebaut, and Red Wierenga, performed by Jen Baker (tbn), Steve Beck (pf), Karen Kim (vn), Liam Kinson (cl), and John Singer (perc); and a performance of Davidovsky’s Synchronism No. 12 by Ben Ringer (cl).

When / Where

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 @ 8:00 PM

The Willow Place Auditorium
26 Willow Place, Brooklyn
Take R to Court Street, or 2,3,4,5 to Borough Hall


$15/$10 (students/seniors)


The grand finale of the celebration of the AACM’s 50th anniversary, presented by the S.E.M. Ensemble in partnership with the Interpretations series, features major works for symphony and chamber orchestra by composers associated with the AACM – Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, George Lewis and Henry Threadgill – as well as works by John Cage, Christian Wolff and Petr Kotik. April 28 includes a duo by Mitchell and Lewis (Lewis’ Bound) and on April 29, a rare performance by the distinguished improvising trio of Abrams, Lewis, and Mitchell.

Tuesday April 28, 2015 @ 8 pm
The S.E.M. Ensemble
Ostravská banda

Wednesday April 29, 2015 @ 8 pm
The Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble

Bohemian National Hall
321 E 73rd St
New York


March 22, 2015 @ 6:00 PM
Willow Place Auditorium, Brooklyn
S.E.M. Ensemble Presented:

Ensemble 365

Free Admission

Ensemble 365, with guest artists soprano Sara Paar and violist Eva Gerard, presents "Eastern Currents: Contemporary Music of Asia," featuring works by Bun-Ching Lam, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh, Ramin Heydarbeygi, Ming-Hsiu Yen and Bright Sheng.

Ensemble 365 (Marta Bedkowska (cello), Mary Hubbell (soprano), Alice Jones (flute), Mirna Lekic (piano), Karen Rostron (violin)) is a quintet founded in 2012 at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Its members, who met as doctoral students at their alma mater, perform regularly in concert halls and festivals in the US and abroad. Collectively they have, as individuals and as collaborators, commissioned, premiered, and recorded over 150 new works by living composers. The ensemble presents themed concerts, combining both new and standard chamber and solo repertoire.


Bun-Ching Lam: Autumn Sounds (1982)
(soprano and flute)

Franghiz Ali-Zadeh: Three Watercolors (1987)
(soprano, flute and piano)

Ramin Heydarbeygi: Astvihad (2012)
(soprano and piano)


Franghiz Ali-Zadeh: Music for Piano (1997)

Bright Sheng: Three Chinese Love Songs (1988)
(soprano, viola and piano)

Ming-Hsiu Yen: Kuang Tsao (2012)
(flute and piano)


The S.E.M. Ensemble presents:


Featuring a preview of Ushio Torikai's new work for Baritone and Orchestra

The S.E.M. Ensemble
Thomas Buckner, Baritone
Petr Kotik, Conductor

Monday, February 9 10:00AM – 3:30PM
Tuesday, February 10 2:00PM – 7:00PM
Wednesday, February 11 4:00 – 7:00PM

Wednesday, February 11 @ 8:30PM

Willow Place Auditorium
26 Willow Place, Brooklyn Heights
Free Admission (contributions are appreciated)

About this year's workshop:
The S.E.M. Ensemble’s Reading of New Compositions was initiated in 1997 and has continued, every season, to the present. During the three-day workshop each composer is provided with time and space to work directly with the conductor and musicians. The workshop culminates in a reading-performance, open to the public. This year’s reading includes works by an international group of composers who reside in the New York area and the Midwest: Colin Tucker, Chung Eun Kim, Yang Ming and Tai-Kuang Chao. It also includes an accordion, trumpet and clarinet trio by Australian/Sri Lankan composer Nirmali Fenn. Additionally Ushio Torikai's new work Remember for baritone and orchestra will be performed.

Nirmali Fenn               Through a glass darkly
Colin Tucker                engulfed, constrained in a widening gap
Chung Eun Kim           pieta
Yang Ming                   lapse of time
Tai-Kuang Chao          walking in the mist
Usio Torikai                 Remember

Other Recent Concerts...

A chamber opera based on texts by Gertrude Stein

Directed by Michael Rau
Kamala Sankaram (Soprano)
Marty Coyle (Tenor)
Jeffrey Gavett (Baritone)
Adrian Rosas (Bass)
Pauline Kim Harris (Violin/Viola)
S.E.M. Ensemble; Petr Kotik (Conductor)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014, 7:30 pm
Paula Cooper Gallery, NYC

“There may have been two [masterpieces] among the five works presented [at NODO]. Kotik's was certainly one, proving that he could craft a light and thoroughly entertaining work from Stein's texts while staying true to his rigid sensibilities.”

The Wire, London, November 2014

The S.E.M. Ensemble returns to Paula Cooper Gallery for the American premiere of American/Czech composer Petr Kotik’s Master-Pieces (2014). The staged, 60-minute chamber opera features a libretto by Kotik, based on writings by Gertrud Stein and adapted to the stage by director Michael Rau. Commissioned by the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre in collaboration with New Opera Days Ostrava (NODO), Czech Republic, Master-Pieces received its world premiere at NODO last June. The opera marks Kotik’s return to Stein’s rhythmic, poetic prose, after Many Many Women and There is Singularly Nothing, both composed in the 70’s.

 A meditation on the nature of art and the act of creation,the opera draws from two works by Gertrud Stein – her 1936 lecture, What Are Masterpieces and Why Are So Few of Them and excerpts from The Wars I Have Seen, her diary from the last three years of WWII, published in 1945. For Stein, “the masterpiece has nothing to do with human nature or with identity, it has to do with the human mind and entity, that is with a thing in itself and not in relation.” Kotik’s opera develops this seeming simple idea by asking: Is what one is doing about the self (identity) or the work (entity)?

 “I wanted to go beyond the spectacle of a musical performance to investigate a meaningful subject matter within a theatrical form,” Kotik notes. “The theatrical energy comes from the very questions raised by Stein, as she continuously veers off her subject to contemplate and think about issues of creative process and the relationship between the self and the world.” The opera is a hybrid between theater and music; and the words – sometimes sung and sometimes spoken – strive to retain the poetry of Stein’s language while opening various layers of meanings.

 The premiere will take place at Paula Cooper Gallery, located at 534 West 21st Street, NY, on Wednesday, December 17, 2014, 7:30pm. Tickets: Advance sale $15/10; at the door $20/15. More info: (718) 488-7659 or

November 21, 2014
Huddersfield, UK
Ostravská banda with SEM members
Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival

 2014 opens with a concert honouring Christian Wolff in his 80th year and showing the long and close collaboration between Wolff and Petr Kotik, who, with the Czech Republic’s OstravskaÅL banda, makes his first visit to Huddersfield.

Presenting a cross-section of the music of Ostravska banda and New York’s S.E.M. Ensemble, with an important contribution by Thomas Buckner, the concert includes Wolff’s Trust, premiered by Ostravska banda at WDR Cologne’s 2013 ‘Ensemble Europa’ series, along with new pieces by Cigler, Mincek and Kotik. Smolka’s music further ties the programme to the biennial Ostrava Days, where all the composers have been working since 2001. The programme is completed by John Cage’s previously presumed lost and recently rediscovered version of Wolff’s For Six or Seven Players (1959), given to Kotik in 1964.

St Paul’s Hall 5:30pm
The Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble & Ostravska banda
Petr Kotík, conductor
Thomas Buckner, baritone


Christian Wolff
37 Haiku

Petr Cígler
Uber das farbige Licht der Doppelsterne

Martin Smolka
Autumn Thoughts

Christian Wolff
For Six or Seven Players
(Music for Merce Cunningham)

Alex Mincek
Subito No 2

Petr Kotík
Nine + 1

Christian Wolff

September 11, 2014 at 8:00 PM
Roulette, Brooklyn
S.E.M. Ensemble
Thomas Buckner, Voice
Petr Kotik, Conductor
INTERPRETATIONS: A tribute to Robert Ashley

Thomas Buckner presents a program of pieces written especially for him by Robert Ashley (1930-2014) in their 30+ years of working together. Works include the stand-alone pieces ‘World War III, Just the Highlights’ and ‘Tract’, and three completely re-conceived concert versions of arias from the opera “Atalanta, Acts of God”: ‘The Producer Speaks’, ‘Odalisque’, and ‘Mystery of the River’, in its New York premiere. With Tom Hamilton, Joseph Kubera, Pauline Kim Harris, Conrad Harris, JD Parran and the SEM Ensemble. Co-sponsored by Roulette and Performing Artservices.

September 21, 2014 at 8:00 PM
The Willow Place Auditorium, Brooklyn
The S.E.M. Ensemble Presents: pianist Dante Boon 


The concert opens with two monumental yet extremely poetic pieces by Jürg Frey and Michael Pisaro. After the intermission, Boon will play his own contribution to “John’s Book”: a collection of solo pieces by all Wandelweiser composers, dedicated to pianist John McAlpine on his 65th birthday. Jürg Frey’s opus number 1 in the Wandelweiser catalogue, by now a classic of contemporary piano music “Sam Lazaro Bros.” concludes the program.


Dutch pianist and composer Dante Boon (b. 1973) has been playing and composing new music from an early age. He worked with, among others, Tom Johnson, Samuel Vriezen, Antoine Beuger, Jürg Frey and James Fulkerson on recording projects and first concert performances. His solo CD "cage.frey.vriezen.feldman.ayres.johnson manion" appeared in 2010 at Edition Wandelweiser Records to positive reviews. In the making are CD's with recordings of two of Boon's vocal compositions by German soprano Irene Kurka, Feldman's For John Cage with American violinist Andrew McIntosh and chamber pieces by Jürg Frey. As a concert pianist, Dante Boon has appeared at many concert venues and festivals across Europe and the USA. Boon's compositions are published by Edition Wandelweiser.


September 24 & 28, 2014
Ostrava & Prague
Ostravská banda with SEM members