International Contemporary Ensemble

Marcos Balter and Felipe Lara

April 6, 2014, 4 PM

Music Room

Artist Images

The Phillips welcomes the return of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), arguably the most versatile, innovative, and compelling new music group in the U.S. today. Celebrating the Made in the USA exhibition at the Phillips, ICE performs the music of Brazilian American composers Marcos Balter and Felipe Lara. In the spirit of Duncan Phillips‘s fostering of young American artists, this concert showcases these two unique composers, who exemplify the multicultural dimension of American art today.


Marcos Balter (b. 1974)
alone, for flute and percussion (2013)
Dialogue #2, from Æsopica, for bass clarinet, bassoon and electronics (2011)

Felipe Lara (b. 1979)
Parábolas na Caverna, for flute (2014)

Marcos Balter
...and also a fountain..., for bassoon and percussion (2012)
Pessoa, for flute (2013)

Felipe Lara
Voz dos Ventos* (2014)
(*World Premiere)

ICE performers: Claire Chase, flute; Joshua Rubin, clarinet; Rebekah Heller, bassoon

“the new gold standard for new music.” 

The New Yorker

The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), described by the New York Times as “one of the most accomplished and adventurous groups in new music,” is dedicated to reshaping the way music is created and experienced. With a modular makeup of 33 leading instrumentalists performing in forces ranging from solos to large ensembles, ICE functions as performer, presenter, and educator, advancing the music of our time by developing innovative new works and new strategies for audience engagement. ICE redefines concert music as it brings together new work and new listeners in the 21st century.

ICE has released acclaimed albums on the Nonesuch, Kairos, Bridge, Naxos, Tzadik, New Focus and New Amsterdam labels, with several forthcoming releases on Mode Records. Recent and upcoming highlights include headline performances at the Lincoln Center Festival (New York), Musica Nova Helsinki (Finland), Wien Modern (Austria), Acht Brücken Music for Cologne (Germany), La Cité de la Musique (Paris) and tours of Japan, Brazil and France. ICE has worked closely with conductors Ludovic Morlot, Matthias Pintscher, John Adams and Susanna Mälkki.

With leading support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, ICE launched ICElab in early 2011. This new program places teams of ICE musicians in close collaboration with six emerging composers each year to develop works that push the boundaries of musical exploration. ICElab projects will be featured in more than one hundred performances from 2011–2014, and will be documented online through ICE’s blog, and DigitICE, a new online venue.

ICE’s commitment to build a diverse, engaged audience for the music of our time has inspired The Listening Rooma new educational initiative for public schools without in-house arts curricula. Using team-based composition and graphic notation, ICE musicians lead students in the creation of new musical works, nurturing collaborative creative skills and building an appreciation for musical experimentation.

“Balter has a wickedly original sense of humor and a fiercely imaginative palette of instrumental and vocal sounds rare in today's dour, post-classical new music.”

The Chicago Tribune

Marcos Balter (b. 1974, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Praised by The Chicago Tribune as "minutely crafted" and "utterly lovely" and The New York Times as "whimsical" and "surreal," the music of composer Marcos Balter is at once emotionally visceral and intellectually complex, primarily rooted in experimental manipulations of timbre and hyper-dramatization of live performance. His works have been featured worldwide in venues such as the Köln Philharmonie, the French Academy at Villa Medici, New World Symphony Center, Park Avenue Armory, Teatro de Madrid, Tokyo Bunka Kaykan, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Teatro Amazonas, Le Poison Rouge, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago. Recent festival appearances include those at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival, Ecstatic Music Festival, Acht Brücken, Aldeburgh Music Festival, Lockenhaus Kammermusikfestival, Aspen, ACO's SONiC Festival, Frankfurter Gesellschaft für Neue Musik, Darmstadt Ferienkurse, Color Field, Musica Nova, and MATA's Interval Series. Past honors include commissions from Meet the Composer, Chamber Music America, The Fromm Foundation at Harvard University, The Holland/America Music Society, The MacArthur Foundation, and the Art Institute of Chicago, fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Tanglewood Music Center/Leonard Bernstein Foundation, and Civitella Ranieri Foundation, as well as first prizes in several national and international composition competitions.

Highlights in 2013/2014 include new works for the International Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble Dal Niente, American Composers Orchestra, yMusic, Amazonas Filarmonica, Camerata de Curitiba Choir and String Orchestra, violist Nadia Sirota, saxophonist Ryan Muncy, flutist Claire Chase and percussionist Svet Stoyanov, appearances at Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony Orchestra MusicNOW, Look & Listen Festival, the Los Angeles Contemporary Art Museum, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players's Sweet Thunder Festival, guest residencies at the 2013 Bienal Musica Hoje and at the 2013 Mount Tremper Music Festival, performances by the Mivos Quartet, Anubis Saxophone Quartet, ensemble, saxophonist Zach Shemon, and others in venues in North and South America, Europe, and Asia, as well as composition lectures, guest concerts, and master classes in several institutions and music festivals in North and South America.

Balter graduated with school and departmental honors at Northwestern University where his main teachers were Augusta Read Thomas, Amy Williams, and Jay Alan Yim. Guest instructors in master classes and festivals include Louis Andriessen, George Benjamin, Pierre Boulez, Elliott Carter, Oliver Knussen, Christian Lauba, Tristan Murail, Enno Poppe, Bernard Rands, Wolfgang Rihm, and Kaija Saariaho.

Having previously taught at the University of Pittsburgh, Northwestern University, and Lawrence University, he is currently the Director of the Music Composition program at Columbia College Chicago.

“a gifted Brazilian-American modernist”

The New York Times

Felipe Lara (b. 1979, São Paulo, Brazil)

The music of composer Felipe Lara has been recently described as "Brilliant" by The New York Times. His works have been recently performed in Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, England, Germany, Holland, Italy, Luxemburg, Switzerland, and the United States by ensembles such as the Arditti Quartet, Camerata Aberta, Duo Diorama, Ensemble Recherche, Ex Novo Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, JACK Quartet, Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, London Sinfonietta, Netherlands Radio Chamber Philharmonic Hilversum (Peter Eötvös), Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, and the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra. His work has been presented at Acanthes (France), Aldeburgh Music Festival (UK), Ars Musica (Belgium), Darmstadt (Germany), Donaueschinger Musiktage (Germany), Europalia (Belgium), Festival for Contemporary Music (Tanglewood), Festival Música Nova (São Paulo), Luxembourg Philharmonie, Sala Cecília Meireles (Rio de Janeiro), Teatro Amazonas (Manaus, Brazil), and Teatro La Fenice (Venice).

His second string quartet Tran(slate) was the winner of the 2008 Staubach Preis in Darmstadt, after the premier performance by the Arditti Quartet with the live-electronics of the Experimentalstudio SWR Freiburg. Two CDs including performances of Lara's music by the Arditti Quartet, Duo Diorama, and Percorso Ensemble, were released in Brazil in the Fall of 2008. In 2010 Peter Eötvös conducted the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic in the premier of commissioned orchestral work Memoria(i)mobile, at Donaueschinger Musiktage, Germany. In 2012 the International Contemporary Ensemble toured Brazil presenting Lara's chamber music. Current projects include commissions by São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Choir (OSESP), International Contemporary Ensemble, Brentano Quartet, and the Fromm Foundation Harvard University (solo flute piece for Claire Chase). Lara is currently a PhD candidate at New York University (GSAS) where he studied with Louis Karchin, Elizabeth Hoffman, and Mario Davidovsky. Additional studies in composition, computer-music, and orchestration with Tristan Murail at Columbia University, as well as lessons with Brian Ferneyhough, Chaya Czernowin, Helmut Lachenmann, Marco Stroppa, Michael Jarrell, Wolfgang Rihm, and Yan Maresz. Lara teaches at New York University and lives in the New York City area.

Founding member and Artist Director of ICE Claire Chase performs Marcos Balter's Descent from Parnassus.

Marcos Balter: Descent from Parnassus (2012) | Cy Twombly Exhibit at the Art Institue of Chicago, 6/3/2012 from ICE on Vimeo.