The New Juilliard Ensemble (NJE), led by founding director Joel Sachs, celebrates the liveliness of today’s music, focusing primarily on repertory of the last decade. Now in its 22nd season, NJE presents music by a variety of international composers writing in the most diverse styles. Its members are current students at Juilliard, who are admitted to the ensemble by audition. Student interest in the ensemble’s work is considerable, with more than 100 students participating each year, although the maximum size of compositions is normally 15-20 players. The ensemble appears regularly at MoMA’s Summergarden and has been a featured ensemble four times at the Lincoln Center Festival. New Juilliard Ensemble members joined members of the Lucerne Festival Academy Ensemble with conductor Pierre Boulez for the 2008 FOCUS! festival, which celebrated composer Elliott Carter’s 100th year.
In September 2013, NJE collaborated with the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Bicentennial Celebration and performed the U.S. premieres of works by Magnus Lindberg and Judith Weir. In November 2012, NJE collaborated with Carnegie Hall on Voices from Latin America; in April 2011, with Carnegie Hall’s Japan/NYC Festival; and in November 2009, with Carnegie Hall’s Ancient Paths, Modern Voices festival.
In January 2009, the New Juilliard Ensemble opened the FOCUS! 2009 festival, CALIFORNIA: A Century of New Music, which showcased West Coast composers. In Spring 2009, the New Juilliard Ensemble toured Japan; in December 2009, they performed aleatoric music at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with an exhibition of Persian and Turkish “divining” manuscripts.
The New Juilliard Ensemble appeared in the FOCUS! 2010 festival, Music at the Center: Composing an American Mainstream; FOCUS! 2011 festival, Polish Modern: New Directions in Polish Music Since 1945; FOCUS! 2012 festival, Sounds Re-Imagined: John Cage at 100; FOCUS! 2013 festival, The British Renaissance, featuring British music since World War II with a tribute to the centenary of Benjamin Britten; and FOCUS! 2014, Alfred Schnittke and His World which celebrated the 80th anniversary of Russian composer Alfred Schnittke and featured music by Schnittke and his contemporaries – Pärt, Gubaidulina, Kancheli, and Silvestrov.