The Ensemble ascolta, based in Stuttgart (Germany) was founded in 2003 by seven musicians who had known each other for many years from working together in various chamber music groups. The intention is to make excellent new scores possible through adequate rehearsal and performance.
The unusual regular line up, concentrating on brass and percussion, breaks new ground among other ensembles. Over the years more than 100 new works have been composed for ascolta. More new works - by Beat Furrer, Marko Nikodijevic and Simon Steen-Anderson, among others - are in the making.
ascolta has been a guest of many german and international new music festivals, for instance Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (England), Darmstadt Summer Courses, Donaueschingen Musiktage, the Berlin Festspiele/Märzmusik (all Germany), the Biennale in Salzburg and Wien Modern (both Austria). There is also regular cooperation with partners nearer to home: with the Stuttgart Musikfest and the Academy Schloss Solitude, with the Stuttgart Music Highschool and Stuttgart State Art Gallery, with the New Vocal Soloists and with the institution Musik der Jahrhunderte (Music Through the Centuries) in whose rehearsal spaces the ensemble is privileged to work.
A project combining avantgarde silent flms of the 1920s and 30s with new compositions by Martin Smolka, Sven-Ingo Koch, Olga Neuwirth, among many others, was initiated as a collaboration with ZDF/Arte (German/French cultural television) and has been continuously enriched by more than 20 new compositions written for classic experimental films by Hans Richter and Oskar Fischinger as well as to classic silent films such as "Entr'acte" by René Clair and "Le chien andalou" by Luis Buñuel/Salvador Dali with performances internationally as far afield as Azerbaijan. The project is currently being opened up to contemporary film, in cooperation with the Music Highschool and the Art Academy, both in Stuttgart.
The programmatic conceptions of the Ensemble ascolta span classical modernism (the Second Viennese School and Erik Satie) via Fluxus and many first performances to the boundaries of rock music. A project including Frank Zappa's synclavier music in transcriptions for ascolta has resulted, in collaboration with the Zappa Family Trust, in a CD of previously unpublished works (currently awaiting issue); further performances with more newly transcribed synclavier music are being planned.
Since 2008 ascolta, supported by the Cultural Office of the City of Stuttgart, has its own concert series "ascolta plays …".