Available languages: EnglishThe Dutch chamber orchestra Asko | Schönberg generally plays music of the 20th and 21st centuries, often commissioning new works from little-known composers. The group was formed in 2009 when the Asko Ensemble and the Schönberg Ensemble merged. Both of those groups had substantial histories as contemporary music ensembles. The Asko Ensemble was formed in 1965 in Amsterdam and specialized in contemporary opera and other multimedia presentations. Its initial conductor was Jan Vriend and was later conducted by Reinbert de Leeuw, who became the conductor of the combined Asko | Schönberg group. The Asko Ensemble also had various prestigious collaborators, including Riccardo Chailly. The group performed the world premieres of major contemporary works including Terrain, by Brian Ferneyhough (1992); the Asko Concerto, by Elliott Carter (1996); and the Hamburg Concerto of György Ligeti (2001). The Asko Ensemble released more than 100 recordings. Named for Arnold Schoenberg, the Schönberg Ensemble was formed in The Hague in 1974 by students at the Royal Conservatory. The group at first performed exclusively the music of the Second Viennese School composers but later expanded its repertory, and it too performed new music by several of the world's top composers. It was headquartered at the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ concert hall in Amsterdam, and the combined Asko | Schönberg group took over that residency. After the two groups merged, they performed a concert of music by Messiaen on January 1, 2009. Asko | Schönberg has performed music by top contemporary composers including Sofia Gubaidulina, György Kurtág, and György Ligeti, but also has an active program of commissioning new works by younger composers, often under the aegis of a talent development project called "K[h]AOS." Like its predecessors, Asko | Schönberg has collaborated with multimedia creators, and the group has toured widely, appearing not only at European summer festivals, but in venues as far afield as South Africa, Australia, and, unusually, Jakarta, Indonesia. The group has continued the active recording programs of its parent ensembles, making albums released on ECM, Nonesuch, and EtCetera, among other labels. In 2019, Asko | Schönberg was heard with the Hilliard Ensemble on one of that vocal group's last recordings, a performance of The Dream of the Rood, by composer John Casken.
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