S.E.M. Ensemble

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Recent Reviews

On Friday night, I heard Mahler's Eighth Symphony in Carnegie Hall...  Four nights later, I heard something no less gigantic: Morton Feldman's For Philip Guston, which sent a small complement of musicians into music of vast dimensions....

What makes Guston fundamentally and wonderously beautiful is its harmony.  Feldman's whole career was a search for ways to string together lovely chords, and Guston contains some of his most lustrous inventions...

... The first two hours present some of the toughest, most unyielding material, as if to weed out casual listeners.  At about the midway point, Feldman begins to give the sound more tonal and rhythmic focus...

Feldman's genius was always in the ending.  At a point where the music seems to have ground to halt completely, the glockenspiel begins to play a descending melody ...  The whole miraculous passage was superbly realized by Mr. Kotik and his players, whose concentration never faltered through the whole five-hour span.

- Alex Ross, New York Times, May 13, 1995

Was it a function of the art audience’s willingness to explore an unusual experience…? Was it the authority with which Kotik led the performers…? The answer: both, and more. I may not make an effort to hear this piece again, but not because I didn’t like it; only because I have little hope of hearing it done as well.

- Anne Midgette, The Washington Post, October 2, 2016

Performing [John Cage's "Song Books I, II"] on Saturday, Petr Kotik’s S.E.M. Ensemble succeeded by leaning into the chaos. At a converted chapel in Brooklyn where the group plays intimate concerts, they gave an hourlong, luxuriously gonzo reading of Cage’s prompts and motifs.

- Seth Colter Walls, New York Times, December 5, 2017