S.E.M. Ensemble

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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.