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what is ekmeles

[ɛk'mɛlɛs] \ek'meles\
1. In Ancient Greek music theory, tones of indefinite pitch and intervals with complex ratios, tones "not appropriate for musical usage." In New York City, a new vocal ensemble dedicated to breathing life into those disallowed tones, new and old.
2. A "brilliant young ensemble... defining a fresh and virtuosic American sound" - The New Yorker

Ekmeles is a vocal ensemble dedicated to the performance of new and rarely-heard works, and gems of the historical avant garde. They have a special focus on microtonal works, and have been praised for their “extraordinary sense of pitch” by the New York Times. They are the recipients of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation’s 2023 Ensemble Prize, the first American group to receive the honor.

As part of their work expanding the possibilities of tuning and technique in vocal music, Ekmeles has given world premieres by composers including John Luther Adams, Taylor Brook, Courtney Bryan, Ann Cleare, Zosha di Castri, Erin Gee, Martin Iddon, Hannah Kendall, Christopher Trapani and James Weeks.

In addition to creating their own repertoire, Ekmeles is dedicated to to bringing the best of contemporary vocal music to the United States that would otherwise go unheard. They have given US premieres by composers including Joanna Bailie, Carola Bauckholt, Aaron Cassidy, Beat Furrer, Stefano Gervasoni, Evan Johnson, Bernhard Lang, Liza Lim, Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf, Lucia Ronchetti, Wolfgang Rihm, Rebecca Saunders, Salvatore Sciarrino, Mathias Spahlinger, and Agatha Zubel.

Collaborations with other musical ensembles and artists has been a part of Ekmeles’s work from the very beginning. In their first several seasons they gave the US premieres of Luigi Nono’s Quando stanno morendo with AMP New Music, and Beat Furrer’s FAMA with Talea Ensemble. Their collaborations with Mivos Quartet include the US premieres of Stefano Gervasoni’s Dir - In Dir and Wolfgang Rihm’s concert-length ET LUX. Ekmeles joined with members of Tilt Brass and loadbang for the US premiere of Mathias Spahlinger’s monumental über den frühen tod fräuleins anna augusta marggräfin zu baden, and Wolfgang Rihm’s SKOTEINÓS.

Ekmeles also collaborates beyond the traditional concert stage, including the integration of singers into choreographic works by New Chamber Ballet, and a staged memorized performance of David Lang’s the little match girl passion at the MET Breuer Museum directed by Tony award winning director Rachel Chavkin. They also gave sold-out performances with Oliver Beer’s Vessel Orchestra, the first sound-based installation commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Director Jeffrey Gavett performed at the keyboard of this instrument, composed of 32 resonant hollow objects spanning 7,000 years of the museum’s collection. In 2022 they sang as part of John Luther Adams’s installation work Veils and Vesper, broadcast on WNYC’s New Sounds.

In January of 2020 they released their debut album A howl, that was also a prayer on New Focus Recordings, with works by Taylor Brook, Erin Gee, and Christopher Trapani. Fanfare magazine said the album's performances were "beyond expert - almost frightening in their precision.” In the spring of 2020 through May 2021, Ekmeles continued to bring their performances to audiences in authentic ways despite the difficulty of singing together. They performed innovative streaming concerts that combined elements of video art created by members of the ensemble, pre-recorded performances, and live synchronous online performing. Ensemble members performed simultaneously from San Francisco, Philadelphia, and New York.

core singers

  • Charlotte Mundy, soprano
  • Soprano Charlotte Mundy specializes in music that is new, daring and sublime. She has been called a"daredevil with an unbreakable spine" (SF Classical Voice), and her performances have been described as "an oasis of radiant beauty" (NYTimes). Mundy has performed as a soloist with the Brooklyn Art Song Society, New York Festival of Song and Resonant Bodies Festival; at the Metropolitan Museum, Park Avenue Armory, BAM Next Wave Festival and the Library of Congress. She has given critically acclaimed performances of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire, Boulez's Le Marteau sans Maître, Feldman's Three Voices and Messiaen's Poémes Pour Mí. Mundy regularly "slays the thorniest material like it's nothing" (WQXR) with TAK ensemble at venues including Issue Project Room, Miller Theater and the Look and Listen festival.

    She has spoken about writing for voice and performed student compositions at institutions including Columbia University, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Cornell, McGill, and Juilliard.

  • Elisa Sutherland, mezzo-soprano
  • Elisa Sutherland is known for her detailed, stylistic interpretations of both early and new music. She has performed with ensembles ranging from American Bach Soloists to Roomful of Teeth. Recent opera roles include Dido in Dido and Aeneas, Dorabella from Cosi fan tutte, Ottavia in L'incoronazione di Poppea, and Nancy in Albert Herring. Elisa was the first place winner of the inaugural Handel Aria Competition in Madison, Wisconsin, and has won Encouragement and District awards at the Met Opera Auditions. This upcoming season, Elisa will perform extensively with Philadelphia's The Crossing, DC's The Thirteen, and her own vocal sextet, Variant 6.

  • Timothy Parsons, countertenor
  • Timothy Parsons is an acclaimed and GRAMMY®-nominated countertenor & choral conductor.He has traveled and performed extensively – as an ensemble & consort singer, and as soloist – in such venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Alice Tully Hall, London’s St John’s Smith Square, Montreal’s Salle Bourgie, and Utrecht’s Tivoli Vredenburg. He has had the great privilege of premiering two Pulitzer-prize winning operas, Ellen Reid’s p r i s m, for LA Opera and the Prototype Festival, and Du Yun’s Angel’s Bone, for the Prototype Festival. He is a former Lay Clerk of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, and a longtime member of two GRAMMY®-nominated New York ensembles, the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and the Clarion Choir. Timothy can be heard on numerous recordings, including two works by Benedict Sheehan, recordings of p r i s m and Angel’s Bone, and numerous recordings with Clarion Music Society and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street. He is an avid hiker, meditator, and vegan and resides in central Vermont.

  • Tomás Cruz, tenor
  • Tomás is known for his "... mellifluous, pure tone (New York Classical Review, 2015),” “… sweet tenor (All About Jazz, 2018),” and stylistic flexibility. Career highlights include concerts with new music ensemble Ekmeles, Toshi Reagon’s folk/rock opera Parable Of The Sower, Du Yun’s Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Angel’s Bone, Steve Reich’s The Desert Music, the world premiere of David Lang’s Prisoner Of The State, and most notably the 2012-15 tour of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s opera Einstein On The Beach. He has performed with Damien Rice, Arcade Fire, jazz big band The Gil Evans Project, avant-garde performer Helga Davis, has been featured in art instillations by Andrea Galvani, Jane Benson, and Martin Creed, and recorded with jazz composers Brian Carpenter, Matthew Sheens, and Grammy Award winner Arturo O’Farrill. Tomás received his MM in Jazz Performance from New England Conservatory.

  • Jeffrey Gavett, baritone and director
  • Jeffrey Gavett, called a “brilliantly agile singer” by the New York Times, has performed with a broad array of artists, including Alarm Will Sound, ICE, Meredith Monk, Roomful of Teeth, SEM Ensemble, Ensemble Signal, and Talea Ensemble. He directs Ekmeles vocal ensemble, and as a founding member of loadbang premiered over 450 pieces from 2008-2022. As a recording artist he appears on Bridge Records, Kairos, NEOS, New Amsterdam, and New Focus Recordings, including music written for him by Chaya Czernowin, Claus-Steffen Mahnkopf, and Charles Wuorinen. He also conducted and music directed for Roomful of Teeth’s CD The Colorado. Theatrical appearances include Rudolf Komorous’s Nonomiya and Petr Kotik’s Master-Pieces at New Opera Days Ostrava in the Czech Republic, Annie Dorsen’s Yesterday Tomorrow at the Holland Festival, in France, and Croatia, and Matt Marks’s Mata Hari on the 2017 Prototype Festival. Mr. Gavett holds degrees from Westminster Choir College and Manhattan School of Music.

  • Steven Hrycelak, bass
  • Steven Hrycelak is in demand as an operatic, concert, and ensemble performer. He has performed with the NY Virtuoso Singers, Toby Twining Music, ekmeles, Early Music New York, Vox, TENET, Meridionalis, Seraphic Fire, and a vocal jazz quintet, West Side 5. He has also been a frequent soloist at Trinity Church Wall Street, as well as with NYS Baroque, Pegasus, Musica Sacra, 4x4, the Waverly Consort, the American Symphony Orchestra, Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, Union Avenue Opera, and the Collegiate Chorale. His performance of Monteverdi’s Seneca with Opera Omnia was hailed by the NY Times as having "a graceful bearing and depth." He has also traveled the US, Canada, and Europe performing in Frank London's Klezmer musical, A Night in the Old Marketplace. Mr. Hrycelak has degrees from Indiana University and Yale University, where he sang with the world-renowned Yale Whiffenpoofs. Additionally, he is a coach/accompanist.


4-15-23: Voices Across Time
at St. Peter's Chelsea
5-1-23: Ekmeles + Sandbox Percussion
at University of Chicago
5-11-23: Gesualdo in historical tuning
on GEMS Midtown Concerts
5-23-23: Verfluchung
at DiMenna Center


3-10-23: Tesselat Composer Collective
at DiMenna Center
2-14-23: Stimmung is for Lovers
at Miller Theatre
2-3 - 2-4-23: New Chamber Ballet: Sanctum
at Mark Morris Dance Center
1-21-23: Premieres
at Our Saviour's Atonement Lutheran Church
10-28-22: Tone Colors
at Crypt of Church of the Intercession

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