Ensemble Musikfabrik

Ensemble Musikfabrik

Ever since its formation, Ensemble Musikfabrik has had the reputation of being one of the leading ensembles for contemporary music. Following the literal meaning of its name, Ensemble Musikfabrik is particularly dedicated to artistic innovation. New, unknown, and often personally commissioned works in unusual media are typical of their productions. The results of their extensive work, usually taking place in close collaboration with the composers, are presented by the Cologne-based international soloist ensemble in about 80 concerts a year in both Germany and abroad, at Festivals, in their own series “Musikfabrik in WDR” and in regular radio recordings and CD productions.

The musicians themselves take the responsibility for making all-important decisions. Exploring forms of modern communication, and new possibilities for expression in musical and theatrical areas, are a focal point. Interdisciplinary projects that can include live electronics, dance, theatre, film, literature and creative artists, along with chamber music, and the confrontation with works using open form and improvisation, extend the traditional conducted ensemble concerts. Lecture concerts and the experimentation with alternative concert forms involving audience participation are also part of this. Thanks to its extraordinary profile, and its superb artistic quality, the Ensemble Musikfabrik is sought after world wide and is a trusted partner of renowned composers and conductors. Since 2013 the ensemble owns a complete replicated set of the Harry Partch instruments. Furthermore, the double bell brass instruments are another outstanding trait of the ensemble's eagerness to experiment.

The ensemble’s guest list is as prominent as it is long: It includes Mark Andre, Louis Andriessen, Stefan Asbury, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Unsuk Chin, Péter Eötvös, Brian Ferneyhough, Heiner Goebbels, Toshio Hosokawa, Michael Jarrell, Mauricio Kagel, Helmut Lachenmann, David Lang, Liza Lim, Benedict Mason, Mouse on Mars, Carlus Padrissa (La Fura dels Baus), Emilio Pomàrico, Enno Poppe, Wolfgang Rihm, Peter Rundel, Rebecca Saunders, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Ilan Volkov and Sasha Waltz.

Ensemble Musikfabrik is supported by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Kunststiftung NRW supports the series “Musikfabrik in WDR”.

Image Credit: 
Katharina Dubno

Asbury, Stefan


In demand with leading orchestras worldwide, Stefan Asbury is renowned for his innovative programming. He has particularly strong relationships with  composers including Oliver Knussen, Steve Reich, Wolfgang Rihm, Unsuk Chin and Mark Anthony Turnage, and collaborates regularly with Ensemble Modern, Klangforum Wien, Musikfabrik and the London Sinfonietta.

Since 1995 Stefan Asbury has served on the faculty of the Tanglewood Music Center and currently holds the Sana H. Sabbagh master teacher chair on the Conducting Faculty which he has held since 2005. He was Music Director of the Remix Ensemble Casa da Musica Porto from 2001-2005, working with them to commissioning and programming an innovative mix of jazz, film and music theatre. From 2011 he has been Chief Conductor of the Noord Nederlands Orkest, after holding the position of Artist in Association with the Tapiola Sinfonietta and working regularly with the Basel Sinfonietta and the NDR Sinfonieorchester (Hamburg). His many opera productions have included John Adams’ A Flowering Tree for the 2009 Perth International Arts Festival, Wolfgang Rihm’s Jakob Lenz for the 2008 Wiener Festwoche, Johannes Maria Staud's Berenice at Munich Biennale and Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Karlsruhe.

His recordings include works by Unsuk Chin and Jonathan Harvey with Ensemble Intercontemporain, and an award-winning disc of Gerard Grisey's music with WDR Koln.

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Ensemble Musikfabrik
Stefan Asbury conductor


Hayden explains, ‘the more poetic meanings of the title hint at a critical commentary on the increasingly nostalgic and inward-looking culture of the UK ... the composition is the latest of a cycle of pieces that combine ideas related to “spectral” traditions with algorithmic approaches to composition, where aspects of the pitch and rhythmical materials are computer-generated using IRCAM’s OpenMusic.’


Die Abkehr was recorded at Funkhaus Wallrafplatz, WDR, Köln, Germany on 6 October 2017.

STEPHAN SCHMIDT Recording Producer

Catalogue number:
NMC DL3043
Release Date:
15 November 2019