"Polished readings... with rapt expressiveness"
The 12 Ensemble is a pioneering un-conducted string ensemble. Modern, versatile and virtuosic, the group has rapidly developed a reputation as one the UK’s leading chamber orchestras, moving audiences worldwide with powerful musical experiences.
Always playing without a conductor, the core formation consists of twelve of London’s most exhilarating chamber musicians. Why no conductor? We believe the ensemble’s acclaimed performances combine the thrilling energy, commitment and spontaneous creativity of a small ensemble or band, adding the breathtaking sound afforded by a larger string orchestra.
Formed in 2012 by Artistic Directors Eloisa-Fleur Thom & Max Ruisi, the 12 Ensemble’s unique approach to rehearsing, performing & programming sets them apart as a revolutionary classical ensemble for the 21st century. Exploring great music of the past in incredible detail, alongside ground-breaking new commissions and evolving genres, the ensemble sets itself no limits and reaches diverse audiences with exceptional musical experiences.
Flexible both in spirit and in size, alongside the core setup of 12 players the group performs in formations ranging from small ensembles to 23 strings and beyond.
The 12 Ensemble are in demand internationally, recently performing at leading venues including the Barbican, Royal Albert Hall, Berlin Philharmonie and Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg. The group have also made appearances at leading festivals worldwide, including debuts at the BBC Proms 2019, La Folle Journée (France), a residency at the Barbican’s Sound & Visions festival and performances in the U.S, South Korea and Iceland, plus multiple broadcasts on BBC Radio 3. The ensemble have collaborated with artists such as Max Richter, The National, Elena Tonra, Keaton Henson and choreographer Alexander Whitley.
The 12 ensemble have released two highly critically-acclaimed albums, Resurrection (2018) and Death and the Maiden (2020). With their own arrangement of Schubert’s iconic string quartet at its heart, Death and the Maiden is a highly-charged personal journey through an evolving musical landscape, featuring accompanying works by Tavener and Icelandic band Sigur Rós plus a new commission from the ROH Composer-in-Residence Oliver Leith.
Highlights for the 20/21 season include debuts at the Wigmore Hall and an extended run at the Southbank Centre, London.