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 35 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.
Since its founding in 2001, ICE has premiered over 500 compositions––the majority of these new works by emerging composers––in venues spanning from alternative spaces to concert halls around the world. The ensemble has received the American Music Center’s Trailblazer Award for its contributions to the field, the ASCAP/Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming, and was most recently named Musical America Worldwide’s Ensemble of the Year in 2013. From 2008 to 2013 ICE was Ensemble-in-Residence at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. ICE musicians serve as Artists-in-Residence at the Mostly Mozart Festival of Lincoln Center, curating and performing chamber music programs that juxtapose new and old music. In 2014 ICE began a partnership with the Illinois Humanities Council, the Hideout in Chicago, and the Abrons Art Center in New York to support the OpenICE initiative.
ICE has released acclaimed albums on the Nonesuch, Kairos, Bridge, Naxos, Tzadik, New Focus, New Amsterdam and Mode labels. Recent and upcoming highlights include headline performances at the Lincoln Center Festival (New York), Aspekte (Austria), Acht Brücken Music for Cologne (Germany), Festival de Música de Morelia (Mexico), Teatro Amazonas (Brazil), and performances with the Nagoya Philharmonic and Seattle Symphony. ICE has worked closely with conductors Ludovic Morlot, Matthias Pintscher, John Adams and Susanna Mälkki. Since 2012, conductor and percussion soloist Steven Schick has served as ICE’s Artist-in-Residence.
In 2011, with lead support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, ICE created the ICElab program to place teams of ICE musicians in close collaboration with emerging composers to develop works that push the boundaries of musical exploration. ICElab projects have been featured in more than one hundred performances from 2011 to 2014, and are documented online through ICE’s blog, and DigitICE, its online library of performance videos. In 2014, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation renewed its leadership support to launch the OpenICE initiative, which brings the full scope of ICE’s programming and educational activities for free to broader audiences around the world.
ICE’s commitment to build a diverse, engaged audience for the music of our time inspired The Listening Room, an 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.