Composer George Lewis selected as International Contemporary Ensemble’s artistic director

Posted on: April 11, 2022

“A composer and scholar who has spoken forcefully about the exclusion of Black artists from experimental music will lead the renowned International Contemporary Ensemble,” writes Javier Hernández in Friday’s (4/8) New York Times. “George E. Lewis, a professor of music at Columbia University known for his groundbreaking work in electronics, will take the helm as artistic director later this month. Lewis, 69, a trombonist and frequent collaborator with the ensemble, will be the first Black leader in its 21-year history…. Lewis is an influential voice in the effort to ‘decolonize’ classical music, at a time when the field is reckoning with questions about racial injustice and a legacy of exclusion…. ‘There is no reason why major music institutions that tout themselves as international should continue to present all-white programs,’ he wrote in a recent essay… The International Contemporary Ensemble, with its 35 members, has long been an important outlet for modern composers—including Lewis…. Lewis will replace Ross Karre, a percussionist who after five years as artistic director is stepping down to take a teaching position at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. The ensemble was co-founded and led for years by the flutist Claire Chase.”