"Polished readings... with rapt expressiveness"
The 12 Ensemble is a pioneering un-conducted string orchestra.
Evolving from a visionary group of like-minded musicians into one of Europe's leading string orchestras, the ensemble has developed a critically-acclaimed reputation as an exhilarating, trend-setting collective, reaching audiences worldwide with powerful musical experiences.
Formed in 2012 by Artistic Directors Eloisa-Fleur Thom & Max Ruisi, the 12 Ensemble’s unique approach to performing & presenting diverse music of the highest quality sets them apart as an influential ensemble relevant in today’s shifting musical landscape. The group has become synonymous with innovative programming, combining core-classical repertoire with exceptional new commissions and creative collaborations from a broad range of artistic spheres.
Always playing without conductor, the core formation brings together twelve of London’s leading chamber musicians. Without a conductor, every member of the group develops an intense engagement with the music they play, combining the energy, commitment and spontaneous creativity of a small ensemble with the breathtaking sound and power afforded by a larger string orchestra.
The 12 Ensemble are in demand internationally, regularly performing at leading venues including the Barbican, Royal Albert Hall, Wigmore Hall, Berlin Philharmonie and Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg. The group have also made appearances at leading festivals worldwide, including the BBC Proms (2019-2022) plus performances in the U.S, South Korea and Iceland, as well as multiple broadcasts on BBC TV, Radio 3 + Radio 6 Music.
With a strong commitment to new music, the group regularly commission and collaborate with leading composers. 2022 will see the 12 Ensemble in residence at the Royal Opera House for Oliver Leith’s new opera ‘Last Days’, based on the film by Gus Van Sant depicting the final days of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. 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, with whom they will give two sell-out concerts at the Barbican in October 2022.
The 12 ensemble have released two highly critically-acclaimed albums, Resurrection and Death and the Maiden (★★★★★ BBC Music Magazine). With their own arrangement of Schubert’s iconic string quartet at its heart, Death and the Maiden is a highly-charged journey through an evolving musical landscape, featuring accompanying works by Tavener and Icelandic band Sigur Rós plus an IVORS award winning commission from the ROH Composer-in-Residence Oliver Leith. 2022 will see the release of Britten's 'Les Illuminations' with soprano Mary Bevan on Sigum Records.