S.E.M. Ensemble

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Unfolding the past

A five-part series describing the history of music making at the S.E.M. Ensemble. The first two installments, "Part I. Introduction," and "Part II. The 1970's" are up now.

Part I. Introduction:

Part II. The 1970's:

Part III. The 1980's: Coming Soon

Part IV. The 1990's: Coming Soon

Part V. Ostrava Days / Looking Forward: Coming Soon

S.E.M. Ensemble was founded in 1970 in Buffalo, N.Y., as part of the Center of the Creative and Performing Arts at SUNY/Buffalo. In its time (1964 – 1980), the Center was one of the largest and most important new music performance organizations, providing creative fellowships for composers and performers from around the world.

Unlike a standard music ensemble, SEM has always been a “composer’s group.” Under the directorship of founder Petr Kotik, scores of composers and musicians have been associated with SEM over the years. To name a few: Julius Eastman, John Cage, Alvin Lucier, George Lewis, Garrett List, Laurie Spiegel, Christian Wolff, Richard Teitelbaum, Ben Neill, Jon Gibson, Amina Claudine Meyers, Christian Marclay, Morton Feldman, Muhal Richard Abrams, Earle Brown, Roscoe Mitchell, Pauline Oliveros, David Tudor and many others.

In the introductory segment, Petr Kotik recalls the background environment from which SEM emerged, shortly after his arrival from Europe in 1969. Each segment is narrated by Kotik, and is supplemented by excerpts of recordings – some live recordings of SEM go back to 1972 – plus photos and videos.
All of the music used in the series is available in full on our YouTube channel – just check the description under the videos. Please stay tuned over the coming months as we release the remaining installments of the series.

SEM at 50

This video has been uploaded to make up for the postponement of the "50 Years of the S.E.M. Ensemble" event, which was due to take place on April 1st, at the Czech Center in the Czech National Building in Manhattan. For more information on the Czech Center and this project, follow the link here.

We look forward to rescheduling this concert once conditions allow.


Christian Wolff Small Orchestra Piece (2019) (World premiere)
Ostravská banda, Petr Kotik, conductor
August 26, 2019 at Ostrava Days Festival

Robert Ashley The Mystery of the River (1991)
Thomas Buckner, baritone; Tom Hamilton, electronics
September 11, 2014 at Roulette Intermedium

Miya Masaoka States of Being, States of Becoming (2018) (World premiere)
S.E.M. Ensemble, Petr Kotik, conductor
December 19, 2018 at Paula Cooper Gallery

Julius Eastman Joy Boy (1972)
S.E.M. Ensemble
September 26, 2017 at Studio 1 of Czech Radio Ostrava

Petr Kotik Wednesdays at RW on Spring St (2019-20) (World premiere, first version)
Ostravská banda, Hana Kotkova, violin; Petr Kotik, conductor
August 30, 2019 at Ostrava Days 2019 Festival


This project and video were made in collaboration with the Czech Center New York.

Emerging Composers Workshop 2020

Emerging Composers

Reading Workshop Concert 2020

February 14, 2020

- at -

Willow Place Auditorium

26 Willow Pl, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Free – RSVP Here


James Ilgenfritz - Ennui Morricone

Leo Chang - Ssanai

Laura Cetilia - tender infliction

Jordan Dykstra - A Zone of Twilight

James Falzone - Method X – Plain Bob Minimus

Sean Kiley - kyi

The S.E.M. Ensemble

Petr Kotik, director

Roberta Michel, flute

Bohdan Hilash, clarinet

Chris Foss, bassoon

Chris Nappi, percussion

Lynn Bechtold, violin

Mioi Takeda, violin

Liuh-Wen Ting, viola

Caleb van der Swaagh, cello

James Ilgenfritz, contrabass

Music as Situation

The S.E.M. Ensemble


Music as Situation

December 18, 2019

- at -

Paula Cooper Gallery

524 W 26 St, New York, NY

Brooklyn Preview Concert

December 16, 2019

- at -

Paula Cooper Gallery

524 W 26 St, New York, NY


Ian DavisThree Movements for Ensemble (2019) (World premiere)

Petr Kotik - Tubamirum (2019) (World premiere)

Judith Berkson - Partial Memories Part III (2019) (U.S. premiere)

John Cage - Cheap Imitation (1969/1982)

Sean Kiley - ancient cascades (2019) (U.S. premiere)

Petr Kotik - Torso (String Quartet No. 2) (2012)

The S.E.M. Ensemble

Petr Kotik, director

Judith Berkson, voice

Petr Kotik, flute & conductor

John Altieri, tuba

Lucie Vítkova, accordion

Ian Davis, piano

Chris Nappi, percussion

Leah Asher, violin

Mioi Takeda, violin

Liuh-Wen Ting, viola

Meaghan Burke, cello

Petr Kotik conducted the Ostrava New Orchestra at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague on November 5th.


Ostrava New Orchestra / ONO

William Lang, trombone

Holger Falk, baritone

Tamás Schlanger, percussion

Petr Kotík, conductor


Ata – for orchestra (1987)                                                                                                     

Commissioned by SWR Baden-Baden orchestra and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Lisboa). Dedicated to Josef Häusler and Luis Pereira Leal.

Premiere: May 3, 1988 in Donaueschingen with Michael Gielen (conductor).


Troorkh – from trombone and orchestra (1991)                        

Commissioned by Music Department of Swedish Radio and Swedish Concert Institute. Dedicated to Christian Lindberg.

Premiere: March 26, 1993 in Stockholm with Christian Lindberg (trombone) and Esa-Pekka Salonen (conductor).


Aïs (aïdos) – double concert for amplified baritone, percussion and large orchestra (1980) 

Commissioned by Bavarian Radio in Munich.

Premiere: February 13, 1981 in Munich with Spyros Sakkas (baritone), Sylvio Gualda (percussion) and Michel Tabachnik (conductor).