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In Ancient Greek music theory, an adjective used to describe tones of indefinite pitch and intervals with complex ratios, tones “not appropriate for musical usage.” In New York City, a new vocal ensemble breathing life into those disallowed tones, new and old.

Ekmeles—praised for their “extraordinary sense of pitch” by The New York Times, and called a “promising addition to the New York scene” by The New Yorker’s Alex Ross—is dedicated to the performance of new and rarely-heard works, and gems of the historical avant garde. New York is home to a vibrant instrumental New Music scene, with a relative paucity of vocal music. Ekmeles was founded to fill the gap by presenting new a cappella repertoire for solo voices, and by collaborating with these instrumental ensembles.

Their recent concert performances include a program of premieres by Columbia University composers, and a concert of American works including world and U.S. premieres by Taylor Brook, Aaron Cassidy, and Zosha Di Castri. Recent collaborations with instrumental ensembles include the U.S. premieres of Beat Furrer’s FAMA with Talea Ensemble, and Luigi Nono’s Quando Stanno Morendo with AMP New Music.

Director Jeffrey Gavett brings a hybrid vision to the group: he is an accomplished ensemble singer and performer of new works, and holds degrees from Westminster Choir College and Manhattan School of Music’s Contemporary Performance Program. He has assembled a virtuoso group of colleagues with diverse backgrounds, ranging from the operatic stages of Europe to Anglican choirs of men and boys, which they bring to the unique challenges of this essential and neglected repertoire.

June 13-20, Ekmeles will present their Festival of Just Intonation Vocal Works, including performances of Randy Gibson’s Circular Trance, and Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Stimmung.