S.E.M. Ensemble

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                     Ostrava Manifesto


It is a call
Creating music
Someone said

Not gesturing
Or calculating
For success

The flow

Sounds and silences
Depth, volume,
Immediacy, space,
Intimacy and directness

Unconditionally changing

Nothing new

A sweeping run
Not a pause
Not an interval

This is the new composition

Even though
After all

We are
As we were

The same place
For centuries


Making music in 2023: composing, performing at concerts – wrongly called “classical” – creating music without concern for the status quo. Making “new” music, creating compositions that avoid the predictable (the new has never been the point). Separating oneself from post-romanticism and its pretentious imitators. Authentic music, which has been called new for centuries – new composition, new performance, new ways of listening.

We are addressing the music world of 2023, the mainstream music world, that has relegated to the margin all compositions that authentically express the time we live in. The mainstream that has been shutting its doors to the new for more than a century, creating, historically, the longest gap between the mainstream/ordinary/status quo – and the new/authentic/unfamiliar. There has always been a gap between the two, but never for such a long period. The results are for everyone to see; the young generation being driven away from concerts, academism and official routines reigning supreme.

We are not attempting to critically analyze the mainstream. We are here to raise the most important issue – that is – to realize that the mainstream is in essence the infrastructure for making music on a scale that matters: large orchestras and festivals, opera houses and music conservatories. It is the infrastructure that enables substantial compositions to be realized. Very much like the tracks on which trains move, it is the infrastructure that allows the creation of great compositions. As long as those tracks are in the hands of managers whose only concern is to pander to audiences that share their distaste for anything unusual, then the true music of our time is going to be pushed to the sideline with the whish that it withers and disappears.

Why is the entire mainstream music world controlled mostly by those who have neither intellectual understanding, nor feeling for the authentic, the new, who become upset when their expectations are not met, rejecting the unfamiliar and difficult. Yes, the new can be irritating, confusing and contradictory, but these attributes have always been a part of authentic works that in the end, have entered the canon of our culture. There has not been a single moment in history, that it has been otherwise.

We are addressing the present condition that feels as if one is standing in the middle of a desert with a few oases here and there.

Why do we have today, instead of a lively vibrant music scene, a dwindling aging public that delights in conventional programs, over and over and over. Why don’t we have a milieu that fosters a sense of adventure, energy and excitement of the current, the new, the authentic?

Petr Kotik, February - March, 2023

Phill Niblock

Christian Wolff

Roscoe Mitchell

Alvin Curran