The Barnes Ensemble

The Barnes Ensemble

The JACK Quartet
The JACK Quartet. Photo by Shervin Lainez

Debut: October 8, 2017

The Barnes Ensemble is a groundbreaking concert program inspired by Dr. Barnes’s unconventional wall ensembles in the permanent collection. This ensemble challenges established genres and presents musical works of different cultures and periods, with special emphasis on contemporary repertoire and its ties to past traditions. As a resident ensemble uniquely wedded to its institution’s mission and educational goals, the Barnes Ensemble will define the Foundation as a hub for innovative programming, nurturing of talented young musical professionals, and support of living composers.

The Barnes Ensemble will debut in three parts:

October 2017: String Orchestra Debut
March 2018: Sinfonietta Debut, with addition of winds, brass, and percussion
June 2018: Full Orchestra Debut 

Discover more about this exciting ensemble in the press:

Philadelphia Inquirer
WRTI 90.1

Resident Artists to join the Barnes Ensemble Fellows for the October 2017 Debut:

JACK Quartet
Featured soloist (TBA)

Important Dates:

June 1: Applications due for the October Fellowships: String Performers

June 15: Announcement of 2017 String Orchestra Fellows

September 29–October 8: Barnes Ensemble Debut Festival

Apply online now at



Experience the Solo Series and the Resounding Voices Choral Series, which alternate throughout the year with new and evolving works. Past and upcoming concerts include:

January 27: Fragments
Carol McGonnell, clarinet, Katherine Skovira, voice, and David Lehman, speaker, featuring a world premiere and US premiere.
Tickets $30/20/15 (general admission/members/students) 

March 31: The Modern Violin
Pauline Kim Harris, violin, and Spencer Topel, composer, on works by Biber, Bach, Sciarrino, Topel.
Tickets $30/20/15 

April 30: Songbird
The Philadelphia Girls Choir, in a celebration of female composers and librettists.
Free and open to the public. 

May 18: The Spectral Piano
Marilyn Nonken, Steinway Artist and author of The Spectral Piano. This concert highlights the works of French spectralists, ranging from Olivier Messiaen and Gérard Grisey to living composers of spectral music such as Tristan Murail and Joshua Fineberg.
Tickets $30/20/15

June 18: Vigilia
The Philadelphia Voices and Robert Whalen, guest conductor, featuring Rautavaara’s stunningly beautiful Vigilia alongside 20th-century and contemporary choral works.
Free and open to the public. 

June 19: Mozart in Havana
In their first US appearance, the Havana Lyceum Orchestra travels from Cuba to the Barnes Foundation to perform, with acclaimed pianist Simone Dinnerstein, the works of their new Sony album, Mozart in Havana.
Tickets $30/20/15

July 27: Resonance
Jordan Dodson, guitar, in a thoughtfully curated program featuring contemporary works for solo guitar.
Tickets $30/20/15 

August 27: Celebrate!
The singers of the St. Thomas Gospel Choir lift their voices in a rousing afternoon of music from spirituals to gospel to Motown and beyond.
Free and open to the public. 

September 14: The Art of Improvisation
Noam Sivan, piano. This program will be entirely improvised new music, to include themes provided by the audience members themselves.
Tickets $30/20/15

October 4: Open Rehearsal with the Barnes Ensemble
Join the Fellows of the Barnes Ensemble from 10 am to noon for an interactive rehearsal—part of the Barnes Foundation’s celebration of five years on the Parkway. Enjoy this opportunity to see the Ensemble’s behind-the-scenes work before the official October 8 debut.
Free and open to the public. 

October 4: The String Quartets of the Barnes Ensemble
This chamber concert features the Barnes Ensemble Fellows in contemporary works that give voice to living composers and showcase the virtuosity and talent of the individual Fellows, allowing them to step outside the traditional orchestral setting as soloists and chamber players.
Tickets $30/20/15

October 8: Barnes Ensemble Debut       
Witness history in the making at the debut of the Barnes Ensemble. In a culmination of the Fellows’ ten days of rehearsal and study with the JACK Quartet, a featured soloist, and contemporary composers, this program includes various world and US premieres and many exciting surprises. Robert Whalen conducts the Barnes Ensemble in its String Orchestra debut appearance.
Tickets $30/20/15

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