Curtis 20/21 Ensemble

The Future of Tradition

Works from the 20th and 21st centuries form the heart of the 20/21 Ensemble's repertoire. With a rich legacy of bold collaborations and striking productions, 20/21 embraces the cutting edge of musical exploration through the highest level of artistry. This season's offerings are inspired by the current all-school project, The Edge Effect




A Mad King

Saturday, November 10 at 8 p.m.

JULIUS EASTMAN (’63)       Joy Boy
PETER MAXWELL DAVIES       Eight Songs for a Mad King

The Curtis 20/21 Ensemble presents Peter Maxwell Davies’s melodrama Eight Songs for a Mad King, long recognized as a major work of experimental theater. Composed in the late 1960s, it captures King George III’s descent into madness through inventive music and a wide array of non-traditional performance techniques, creating an unforgettable experience for the listener. It's preceded by Joy Boy, a bright and minimal woodwind quartet by Curtis alumnus Julius Eastman, a gifted and idiosyncratic composer, pianist, and one of the first vocalists to take on the Eight Songs in performance.


The program will include a conversation with David Ludwig about the composers on the program.


Ode to Napoleon

Saturday, February 2 at 8 p.m.


Illumination Rounds



7’ Synchrony


Spero Lucem

DAVID LUDWIG (’01)      

Flowers in the Desert


Ode to Napoleon

Curtis alumnus and world-renowned pianist Peter Serkin joins Curtis 20/21 and the Vera String Quartet to perform Arnold Schoenberg’s Ode to Napoleon, a work written in 1942 in response to the rise of authoritarianism and World War II. The program features other politically-charged works: pieces by Curtis alumni Jonathan Bailey Holland and David Ludwig, 20/21’s artistic director; and gripping musical statements by David Lang and Nina Young.


There will be a pre-concert conversation on stage with some of the composers including a discussion of the intersection of politics and music.

Portrait of Augusta Read Thomas

Saturday, March 23 at 8 p.m.

Two Thoughts About The Piano
Mansueto Tribute, "double helix"
Helix Spirals
Klee Musings
Plea for Peace
Selene—Moon Chariot Rituals

Curtis 20/21 performs a selection of works by Curtis’s 2018–19 composer in residence, Augusta Read Thomas. A Grammy award-winning master with an impressive body of works that embody unbridled passion and fierce poetry, she has been called “a true virtuoso composer” (The New Yorker) and “one of the most recognizable and widely loved figures in American music” (American Academy of Arts and Letters).


An on-stage conversation with Augusta Read Thomas will precede the performance.

20/21 Ensemble Video

Generous support for the Curtis 20/21 Ensemble is provided by the Daniel W. Dietrich II Foundation.