S.E.M. Ensemble

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Art of Music and Ideas


Ostravská banda

with members of the S.E.M. Ensemble

Petr Kotik, Jiří Rožeň, Conductors

April 19th (preview), 20th and 21st

Petr Kotik (conducting) with Roscoe Mitchell and Ostravská banda in rehearsal, 2017


Wednesday, April 19 at 7 pm

Willow Place Auditorium

26 Willow Place, Brooklyn Heights

Preview of selected compositions from April 20 th and 21st programs.

Click here to RSVP


Thursday, April 20 at 7 pm

Buchwald Theater

at the Leonard & Claire Tow Center for the Performing Arts

2920 Campus Road, Brooklyn College


Philip Glass                   Two Pages                                (1968)

Jan Rychlík                     African Cycle                           (1961)

Frederic Rzewski          Les Moutons de Panurge     (1969)


Phill Niblock                  Petr’s Charm                           (2021)

Jana Vörösová             Oratio Phillipica                      (2021)

Roscoe Mitchell            Nonaah                                   (1977/2023)


The following composers will be present:

Roscoe Mitchell, František Chaloupka, Phill Niblock

Click here to RSVP


Friday, April 21 at 7 pm

The Grand Ballroom

Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street, New York

František Chaloupka   The Witch Waltzers                (2023)

Petr Bakla                     Elsewhere                                  (2017)

Rudolf Komorous        Olympia                                     (1964)

Pauline Oliveros          Meditation for Orchestra      (1997)

Christian Wolff            Trust                                           (2012)


Improvisation: Roscoe Mitchell, Thomas Buckner and Guests

Pavel Zemek Novák   Quartet No. 3                           (1998)

Petr Kotik                     Nine + 1                                     (2012)


The following composers will be present:

Petr Kotik, Petr Bakla, Christian Wolff, Roscoe Mitchell, Jana Vörösová

Click here to RSVP

* * *


When Luigi Nono arrived in Prague In autumn of 1960, he gave Petr Kotik transcripts of Darmstadt lectures. That year, most of them were by John Cage. His ideas about music, his esthetics and thoughts about the arts inspired a group of composers in Prague who were associated with Kotik. This influence was not unlike the one Cage had a decade earlier on a number of important American artists and musicians. In Prague, it started a change in orientation from Darmstadt to American music. Although later, the American influence spread gradually throughout Europe, Prague was the first place where it had an important impact. It is interesting to note that the Czech Republic was then a country behind the Iron Curtain. The two New York concerts with music from Prague and New York (going back more than sixty years) will demonstrate an independence from the post-Webern Darmstadt style in new music, that was prevailing at that time both here in the U.S. and in Europe. Combining the Czech and American compositions will demonstrate a proximity of ideas and sensibilities, which originated here in the U.S.  When John Cage visited Prague in 1964 and listened to music by Rudolf Komorous and Petr Kotik, he told them:

"What you are doing in Prague is extraordinary, I have never encountered anything like it".


Produced by the Ostrava Center for New Music, these performances have been funded by the Recovery Plan at the Czech Ministry of Culture, the City of Ostrava and privately by Veronika and Libor Winkler.

S.E.M. Ensemble’s 2022-23 season has been made possible with the generous support of the New York State Council on the Arts in partnership with Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, The Amphion Foundation, The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University, and private donors: Stephen J. Deutsch, Virginia Dwan, Martina Forman, Philip Foster, Allegra Fuller Snyder, Beth Greenberg and Jim Wright, Charlotta Kotik, Raymond Learsy, Julian Lethbridge, Rotraut Moquay, and Noni Pratt. Special thanks to Brooklyn District 33 Councilman Lincoln Restler.

Special thanks for the support of Brooklyn College and the Czech Center New York.

For more information:

Ostravská banda (​​
S.E.M. Ensemble (

Conductor Jiří Rožeň (

Information about Petr Kotik can be found on both, the Ostravská banda and SEM websites.








Previews !!

"Nothing gets done without a deadline."
-Benjamin Franklin, 1774

Previews of new compositions by
Petr Kotik (work-in-progress), Ian Davis,
Philip Ellis Foster, and Michael Byron.*
Plus Fabric for String Noise by Michael Byron

* Michael Byron's double piano concerto will be premiered the next day, March 9th @ 8pm, as part of the "Interpretations Series" at Roulette Intermedium.
For more information: click here

Wednesday, March 8th at 7:30pm
Willow Place Auditorium

26 Willow Place
Brooklyn, NY

Free Admission

The Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble
Petr Kotik, conductor
String Noise
Conrad Harris & Pauline Kim Harris
Joseph Kubera and Steven Beck, piano
Ian Antonio, percussion
Josh Modney, violin
S.E.M. Ensemble at Willow Place Auditorium
Petr Kotik                 Antonio / Collage

Michael Byron          Fabric for String Noise

Philip Ellis Foster     Time Out

Ian Davis                  Fermata Moment  
Michael Byron          In One Second There Will Be A Thousand
                                 Plateaus Perhaps
for two pianos and chamber ensemble

Free Admission, please RSVP here:

The Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble
Bohdan Hilash, clarinet
Tim McCarthy, horn
Blair Hamrick, horn
Ser Konvalin, horn
Sigrun Kahl, horn
Joseph Kubera, piano
Steven Beck, piano
Conrad Harris, violin
Tom Chiu, violin
Pauline Kim Harris, violin
Audrey Hayes, violin
Liuh-Wen Ting, viola
Dan McCarthy, viola
Martine Thomas, viola
Hannah Selin, viola
Ben Larsen, cello
Caleb van der Swaagh, cello


Wednesday, February 15th @ 8pm

S.E.M. Ensemble Presents

Readings of New Compositions by Emerging Composers

 Works by Lydia Brindamour, Jordan Dykstra, Jakub Polaczyk, Teodora Stepančić, and Jiaqi Wang


Willow Place Auditorium

26 Willow Place Brooklyn, NY 11201

Free Admission

The S.E.M. Ensemble & Guests
Petr Kotik, Conductor


S.E.M. Ensemble’s initiative to read new works by emerging composers began in 1997 and has continued, every season, to the present. A workshop gives each composer time and space to work directly with musicians and the conductor. The pieces are then given a public performance at Willow Place Auditorium in Brooklyn Heights.
The Program:
Lydia Brindamour      in, between
Teodora Stepančić    Coleman's Piece
Jiaqi Wang                Stories of the Six Realms of Samsara
Jakub Polaczyk        Withers
Jordan Dykstra         Circadian Hymns in Ovid, New York

Free Admission, please RSVP here:


SEM continues its collaboration with the

Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians

in concert by

The Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble

Petr Kotik, Conductor

with soloists

Thurman Barker, drums

Nicolas Hay, baritone


Saturday, October 15th

7pm at DiMenna Center for Classical Music

(450 W 37th St, New York, NY 10018)

Petr Kotik and Roscoe Mitchell at Ostrava Days 2017


                        Amina Claudine Myers      Interiors     

                        George Lewis                    Mangle of Practice

                        Adegoke Steve Colson      Counterpoints I & II

                        Leonard E Jones                Quintets 1 and 1_2

                        Muhal Richard Abrams      Trio

                        Henry Threadgill               Poems for Voice (1&3)

                        Thurman Barker                Mr. Speed-Str

Petr Kotik and The Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble began collaborating with AACM composers in 1995, when Muhal Richard Abrams invited Petr and his ensemble to work together on a series of AACM orchestra concerts at the New York Society for Ethical Culture on West 64th Street, Manhattan. Between 1995 and 1997, Petr Kotik conducted orchestra compositions by Amina Claudine Myers, Roscoe Mitchell, George Lewis, Wadada Leo Smith, Joseph Jarman, Henry Threadgill, and Muhal R. Abrams. SEM’s collaboration with AACM continues to this day, and has included large-scale European performances and recording.

Tickets available here:






In the complete, six-hour performance of

Petr Kotik’s Many Many Women

Text by Gertrude Stein

Staging and Projection by Jo Fabian


Thursday, September 29, 6pm - 12am

@ Roulette Intermedium

509 Atlantic Avenue / at 3rd Ave

Brooklyn Downtown (one block from BAM)

Tickets available here:

Audience members are free to come and go for the entire duration of the performance

Sopranos: Zen Wu, Ana Caseiro

Countertenor, Tenor: Padraic Costello, Nathan Fletcher

Bass-Baritone, Bass: James Gregory, Nicholas Hay

Flutes: Petr Kotik, Roberta Michel

Trumpets: Sam Jones, Max Morel

Trombones: Will Lang, Jen Baker

Percussionists: Chris Nappi, Juan Herrera,

Sam Lazzara, Russell Greenberg


Can't make the concert on the 29th? Come to the preview on September 23rd from 5pm - 11pm,

located at Willow Place Auditorium (26 Willow Place, Brooklyn 11201)


To open the 33rd season of Interpretations Concert Series, the S.E.M. Ensemble will perform Petr Kotik's six-hour-long, magnum opus Many Many Women (MMW) (1975-78), set to Gertrude Stein's 86-page novella of the same title. After its NYC premiere at The Whitney Museum of American Art and Paula Cooper Gallery in 1979, Richard Kostelanetz called the piece “continually austere and yet engaging”— a classic of underground music in the 1970s. The upcoming concert follows the first staged performance of MMW, produced at the New Opera Festival NODO in Ostrava, Czech Republic this past June. Featuring Berlin director Jo Fabian’s staging and projections, the Roulette production will also include a simultaneous performance of Kotik’s Drums for percussion (1977-80). MMW hasn’t been performed in its entirety in NYC since 2013.


It was the invitation to perform the piece at NODO, that inspired the creation of the staged opera version. NODO festival explores new approaches to opera and this year, it included operas that turned away from the romantic notion of an opera as drama. These new operas could be described as “variable situation spectacles,” such as the monumental Prometeo by Luigi Nono (two conductors, four orchestras, choir, vocal and instrumental soloists, percussion, narrators and extended electronics). – Petr Kotik


MMW will be performed as an opera – a spectacle without a plot or a story. The score consists of 173 sections across 378 pages. The sections are distributed among all the performers, who shape the piece during the performance, improvising their entrances and creating a musical flow of unpredictable configurations. Despite its open form, MMW is traditionally and exactly notated. The twelve musicians – six singers and six instruments – will perform continuously for six hours.


Tickets Available Here: Audience members are free to come and go at will for the entire duration of the performance.


Interpretations Concert Series is produced by Mutable Music. This year's Interpretations series will include major works by Wadada Leo Smith, Tyshawn Sorey, Michael Byron, and Alexandra Gardner, among others.


More about Many Many Women:

In MMW, the audience follows a flow of musical events that have no clear beginning or ending. It is a “situation” instead of “dramatic story.” This notion was eloquently described by Morton Feldman in his comments on Samuel Beckett's libretto to the opera Neither:

"…there's something peculiar about the text. I can't catch it. Finally, I see that every line is really the same thought said in another way. And yet the continuity acts as if something else is happening. Nothing else is happening. What you're doing, in an almost Proustian way, is getting deeper and deeper saturated into the thought."

Kotik began composing for voice in 1971, as a result of his close collaboration with the composer and singer Julius Eastman. From the first piece he composed for Eastman, Kotik was using the writings of Gertrude Stein. Many Many Women is the culmination of the series of Stein-related works.


Kotik's hands, the iron-clad rhythms that drive words and music have weight but are not heavy – they are deliberate and move horizontally with a regularity. George Grella, 2021


...consistently strong and distinctive, Many Many Women is a 20th century masterpiece.  – Christian Wolff, 2022


Many Many Women is an enormously demanding composition... dedication, stamina and concentration of the performers is astounding. The music has an ingenuous effect on the listener...Like watching a river, a sea surf, a fire or the swaying of treetops...  –  Jan Borek, Harmonie magazine, Prague, July, 2022


About the Artists:

Although as a composer, Petr Kotik is regarded as self-taught, he undertook rigorous musical training, studying the flute at the Prague Conservatory and taking private composition lessons with Jan Rychlík, followed by composition studies at the Akademie für Musik in Vienna. Rychlík has been a source of inspiration and admiration for Kotik throughout his life (similar to Philip Glass's admiration for Nadia Boulanger). Rychlík's work and ideas were far ahead of his time. In the late 1950s, he began to work with phase music based on African drumming, similar to Steve Reich's compositions more than a decade later. Rychlík's early beginnings as a jazz player as well as his scholarly research into music practice led him to understand and appreciate the significance of improvisation, almost half a century before it became part of the avant-garde. It is possible that the unconventional openness of Rychlík, together with the writings of Cage, which Kotik discovered at the age of eighteen, may have influenced the composer's way of thinking at this very early stage.

Born in Berlin (East) in 1960, Jo Fabian is an author, director, stage designer, and choreographer. He is the founder and artistic director of the theatre group known today as DEPARTMENT/fabian.dept. Since 1987, Jo Fabian has created more than 40 stage productions for theaters throughout Germany. In 1989 he worked closely with the Bauhaus in Dessau and founded the independent project group ›example dept.‹ that worked under his direction for six years. His unusual theater of images suspends the borderlines between theater, dance, performance, concerts and installation and typically combines polished artificial aesthetics with precision and subtle irony.

SEM is dedicated to the performance and advancement of new music, with a focus on current compositions. Since its inception in 1970, SEM has collaborated with composers who have also often performed with the group. They have included Earle Brown, John Cage, Alvin Lucier, Morton Fedman, Alvin Singleton, Leroy Jenkins, Pauline Oliveros, Elliott Sharp, Jackson Mac Low, Roscoe Mitchell, Phill Niblock, David Tudor and Christian Wolff, among others.