The 12 Ensemble is a pioneering un-conducted string orchestra.
Evolving from a close-knit group of like-minded musicians into one of Europe's leading string orchestras, the 12 Ensemble has developed a critically-acclaimed reputation as an influential collective, reaching audiences worldwide with powerful musical experiences.
Flexible in size but always playing without conductor, the core formation brings together twelve of London’s leading string players. Formed in 2012 by Artistic Directors Eloisa-Fleur Thom & Max Ruisi, the 12 Ensemble has become synonymous with innovative programming, combining their dedication to core- classical repertoire with exceptional new commissions and collaborators from a broad range of artistic spheres.
Artists-in-Residence at the Wigmore Hall for 2023-25, the 12 Ensemble are in- demand internationally, performing at leading venues including the Barbican, Royal Albert Hall, Berlin Philharmonie and Elbphilharmonie. The group have also made multiple appearances at leading festivals worldwide, including performing Schubert’s Death & the Maiden at the BBC Proms plus invitations to the U.S and South Korea, as well as multiple broadcasts on BBC TV, Sky Arts and international radio.
Alongside their commitment to world-class performances of core-classical repertoire, the group have always championed new music and regularly commission and collaborate with leading composers. Their 2020 commission Honey Siren from composer Oliver Leith won an Ivor Novello award for Best Chamber Composition, and 2022 saw the 12 Ensemble join forces with Leith once again at the Royal Opera House for his acclaimed opera Last Days, based on the film by Gus Van Sant depicting the final days of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain (★★★★★ Independent). The group have also recently commissioned works from Edmund Finnis, Kate Whitley and Laurence Osborn.
The ensemble has also collaborated closely with Radiohead guitarist and composer Jonny Greenwood (recording his soundtracks to the Oscar-nominated films 'Spencer' and ‘The Power of the Dog’), and have a long-established relationship with composer Max Richter, including performances with him at the Paris Philharmonie and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. The ensemble have also worked with artists such as Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Laura Marling, The National, Ichiko Aoba, Elena Tonra and Chrissie Hynde. The group feature onscreen in Andrew Dominik’s 2021 film ‘This Much I know To Be True’, exploring the collaborations of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.
The 12 ensemble have released two highly critically-acclaimed albums, Resurrection and Death and the Maiden (★★★★★ BBC Music Magazine). 2023 saw the ensemble appear on soprano Mary Bevan’s award-winning album Visions Illuminées, featuring Britten's Les Illuminations. 2024 will see the release of the ensemble’s third album Metamorphosis, featuring works by Vivier, Strauss, Leith and Finnis.