"Polished readings... with rapt expressiveness"
The 12 Ensemble is a pioneering un-conducted string ensemble. Modern, dynamic and virtuosic, the group has rapidly developed a reputation as one of Europe's most exhilarating collectives, moving audiences worldwide with powerful musical experiences.
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 ensemble relevant in the 21st century. Exploring great music of the past alongside ground-breaking new commissions and collaborations with outstanding contemporary artists, the ensemble sets itself no boundaries and reaches diverse audiences with exceptional musical experiences.
Always playing without a conductor, the core formation consists of 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 thrilling energy, commitment and spontaneous creativity of a small ensemble or band, with the breathtaking sound afforded by a larger string orchestra. It's what makes our live performances so special.
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 the BBC Proms in 2019 + 2020, plus performances in the U.S, South Korea and Iceland, as well as multiple broadcasts on BBC TV, Radio 3 + Radio 6 Music. The ensemble have collaborated with contemporary artists such as Max Richter, Jonny Greenwood, Nick Cave, 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 multiple performances at the Wigmore Hall, collaborating with composer Jonny Greenwood both on-stage and in the studio, plus the release of a new live album with one of our collaborators.