Metropolis Ensemble is a dynamically evolving 21st century orchestra. Dedicated to creating a future for classical music that is of and for the time we live in, Metropolis Ensemble’s driving force is its founder and artistic director, Andrew Cyr, a Grammy Award-nominated orchestra conductor.
An agile, evolving collective of composers and performers, Metropolis Ensemble has won national and international recognition for its three studio recordings, including winning Canada’s prestigious Juno Award for Best Classical Composition in 2013 for Vivian Fung’s Violin Concerto (Kristin Lee, solo violin). In 2010, Metropolis Ensemble received its first Classical Nomination Grammy Award for Avner Dorman’s Mandolin Concerto, with soloist Avi Avital. And in 2014, producer David Frost received a Classical Producer of the Year Grammy Award for work that included Metropolis Ensemble’s recording of the music of Brooklyn-based composer Timo Andres, recorded at Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall and released on Nonesuch Records. Metropolis Ensemble’s most recent studio album entitled “Spiritual America” (music by William Brittelle), released in 2019 in a new collaboration with Nonesuch and New Amsterdam Records (also made in collaboration with the indie-band Wye Oak and The Grammy-Award Winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Metropolis Ensemble also collaborated in studio with artist Emily Wells, developing a co-commission for composer Michi Wiancko with Saint Paul’s Liquid Music Series, to create and record Wells’ latest album project entitled, “This World is Too___For You”. Metropolis Ensemble will perform this album as part of BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival on June 22, 2019.
For over a decade Metropolis has served as an incubator for today’s most outstanding emerging composers and performers to present bold new work. The organization has commissioned over 150 works of music from a dynamic mix of emerging composers. New music projects have been presented by BAM’s Next Wave Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Creative Time, Lincoln Center “Out of Doors” and “American Songbook” series, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, The Met Museum, (Le) Poisson Rouge, The Wordless Music Series, The Public Theater, The Phillips Collection, and Celebrate Brooklyn. In 2013, Metropolis made its Off-Broadway debut with a new children’s opera by David Bruce at New Victory Theatre on 42nd Street, produced in collaboration with The Royal Opera House of London II and The Opera Group. Through these performances Metropolis has garnered a reputation for presenting “new music played with the same kind of panache and bravura we usually experience only in performances of standard repertoire” (Esa-Pekka Salonen).
Metropolis Ensemble thrives in a state of creative flux. Resident Artists and Composers rotate in and out and eventually become Alumni; new talent is constantly brought in; every presentation’s concept and many venues are different; and most of Metropolis Ensemble’s music is new. Through its unique collaborative process, Metropolis Ensemble exists to support ascending contemporary classical performers and composers, often engaging them with other bleeding-edge cultural innovators and artists. Metropolis Ensemble events result through intense small group collaborations between its Resident Artists, Composers, and Artistic Director Andrew Cyr. These collaborations start with the initial conceptualization and don’t end until the last performance.
But commissioning and performing new work is only part of the story. By bringing together young composers and instrumentalists through its Resident Artist Program, Metropolis Ensemble empowers emerging classical talent with the right resources to create new platforms and launch sustainable careers. Through this model of collaborative and foundational support, Metropolis is investing in the present and future vibrancy of classical music. In recent seasons, Metropolis-affiliated artists have received some of the highest accolades, including The Guggenheim Fellowship, The Pulitzer Prize, The Rome Prize, Grammy Awards and Nominations, and many of the top competition prizes world-wide. Many Metropolis Ensemble alumni are now leading the top orchestra’s world-wide, including of recent note: Frank Huang (concertmaster, NY Philharmonic), Andrew Wan (concertmaster, Montreal Symphony), Erin Keefe (concertmaster, Minnesota Orchestra), among others. Resident Composers have included Avner Dorman, Vivian Fung, Timo Andres, Anna Clyne, and Caroline Shaw.
In 2017, Metropolis Ensemble began a bold new experiment by operating a pop-up event space entitled 1 Rivington, named after its address. The loft, a former art gallery, has been home to over 50 chamber music concerts to date ranging from a Fraser episode set to music by Doug Balliett, residencies featuring award-winning string quartets such a as MIVOS, Argus, Aizuri quartets, collaborations with new composer collectives like Kinds of Kings, 2 piano festivals, and dozens of composer and performer-curated experiments and new music projects.
Other recent highlights include the celebration Metropolis Ensemble’s 10th Anniversary in a concert inspired by John Cage’s Musicircus, which featured 23 composers, 38 musicians, and 10 World Premieres, in collaboration with composers Paula Matthusen and Ricardo Romaneiro. Last season, included the performance-art project S.S. Hangover by artist Ragnar Kjartansson, (music by Sigur Ros composer Kjartan Sveinsson), presented by Creative Time and seen by over 100,000 people in Central Park, a unique collaboration with singer-songwriter sensation Emily Wells (with composer Ryan Francis) at The Bowery, a third iteration and tour of Metropolis’ innovative site-specific “Brownstone” series (called “half-concert and half art installation” by The Wall Street Journal), as well as Resident Artist projects with bassoonist Brad Balliett (with composers Nina Young, Bora Yoon, and Brad and Doug Balliett) and composer/electronic artist Ricardo Romaneiro (with chef Jonah Reider of Columbia University dorm fame) and composers Jakub Ciupinski and Christopher Cerrone).
Embodying the fluidity of today’s music scene, Metropolis Ensemble has also collaborated with a wide-array of artists who defy classification, including several large-scale concert productions with Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, presented at BAM and Philadelphia’s Verizon Center. Metropolis has also performed with artists such as Deerhoof, San Fermin, BabX, Emily Wells, Sonnymoon, Tom Krell and How to Dress Well, David Murray, Jeremy Ellis, Razel, and DD Jackson. In 2014, Metropolis performed on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon alongside the Grammy-winning hip-hop group The Roots. Metropolis Ensemble also appeared with The Roots on their critically acclaimed 2014 album on Def Jam Records “and then you shoot your cousin” and “Undun”.
Metropolis Ensemble is also equally dedicated to making a difference in its local community via its education program for underserved children called Youth Works. The program reaches over 400 middle school students across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx through innovative partnerships with organizations such as the Young Composers & Improviser’s Workshop, TEAK, and ComposerCraft to teach music composition and perform student works.