February 6, 2018


Cross-border collaboration, University residencies highlight tour to Midwest and California

NEW YORK – February 6, 2018 – The post-classical chamber ensemble NOW Ensemble kicks off its February 2018 tour this Friday, February 9, with a performance at the Toledo Museum of Art, followed by main stage performances in Ann Arbor and Los Angeles.

As part of its mission to support the work of younger composers and promote an ongoing dialogue surrounding contemporary performance, NOW Ensemble will highlight its work with universities on this tour, giving multi-day residencies at Denison University, the University of Southern California, and University of Redlands.

A performance in Tijuana, Mexico on Saturday, February 17 continues an ongoing cross-border collaboration with composer Andrés Martin and the Centro de Artes Musicales, in partnership with San Diego’s Art of Élan. NOW Ensemble is in its second year as Art of Élan’s Ensemble in Residence.

On the tour, NOW Ensemble will present the world premiere of a new work by Sean Friar, as well as works by Judd Greenstein, Mark Dancigers, and Missy Mazzoli.

Time Out New York has described NOW Ensemble as having "...the formal elegance of chamber music with a pop-honed concision and rhythmic vitality.” Newsweek writes that “striking a balance between the old and the new has rarely sounded this good.”

NOW Ensemble Tour, February 2018

Friday, February 9, 2018 | 8:00 p.m. | Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH

Saturday, February 10, 2018 | 8:00 p.m. | Kerrytown Concert Hall, Ann Arbor, MI

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 | 7:00 p.m. | Burke Recital Hall, Denison University, Granville, OH

Friday, February 16, 2018 | 7:00 p.m. | Cammilleri Hall, University of Southern California, LA

Saturday, February 17, 2018 | 11:00 a.m. | Centro de Artes Musicales, Tijuana, Mexico

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 | 2:30 p.m. | Loewe Recital Hall, Univ. of Redlands, Redlands, CA

“Rounder Songs” named #3 EP of the year by Textura!

Emily Pinkerton, Patrick Burke and NOW Ensemble
“Rounder Songs” 
out November 17
on New Amsterdam Records

Folk composer, singer and multi-instrumentalist Emily Pinkerton and contemporary classical composer/NOW Ensemble member Patrick Burke are excited to announce their new collaborative work with chamber group NOW Ensemble, Rounder Songs, will be released November 17, 2017 on New Amsterdam Records.

Rounder Songs is a song cycle for voice, banjo and chamber ensemble that brings together the sounds of 21st century post-minimalist classical music and North American old-time. The work is based on public domain songs and legends from Kentucky and West Virginia that tell the stories of several “rounders”: rural drifters who include a gambler, a murderer, and a mill laborer who strikes a deal with the devil.

Rounder Songs was conceived and composed by Pinkerton and Burke (who are also a married couple) to focus on the common ground between their musical styles -- hypnotic, pulsing rhythms, subtle melodic variation over time, and perhaps most of all, the vivid evocation of certain moods. The workfeatures old-time and classical genres on a level playing field, rather than subsuming one within the other.

Pinkerton and Burke started with traditional songs and lyrics from Appalachia, then re-composed them for Pinkerton to sing and play banjo with NOW Ensemble, using the group's unique instrumentation of flute (Alex Sopp), clarinet (Alicia Lee), electric guitar (Mark Dancigers), double bass (Logan Coale), and piano (Michael Mizrahi) to amplify the mood of each song.

Each movement of Rounder Songs is motivated by a distinct vision of this wedding of musical cultures. In “Red Rocking Chair,” NOW Ensemble’s instrumentation serves as a distillation of a clawhammer banjo pattern. The individual lines interact in a way that echoes the relationships between the banjo strings, creating a minimalist texture. In "Marcum and the Yankee" a mill worker strikes a deal with the devil and trades his soul for a gun in this legend from the famous Hammons Family of West Virginia. Both eerie and cathartic, it represents the intersections of industry with the environment.

"Pretty Polly" is chilling murder ballad, set in a 6/8 meter, unlike most well-known versions. It opens with the evocative line "left nothing behind but the birds to mourn": the words the murderer speaks as he walks away from the fresh grave he has dug. “Three Forks of Hell" is an adaptation of a Civil War-era tune that explores the harmonic boundaries of old-time banjo, and suggests the movement of water through canons and counterpoint.

The last movement, “Darling Corey" is a warning to a banjo-playing and moonshine-making Corey with heavily syncopated interjections and foot-stomping that bring the verses to life. Emily draws from field recordings with a shifting seventh degree that the voice and ensemble explore throughout the piece.
Rounder Songs will be performed in full in New York City in early winter, more information coming soon.

Rounder Songs is supported by grants from New Music USA, The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation. The album was produced by Grammy-award winning producer Jesse Lewis, and edited, mixed and mastered at Immersive Music Project. It was engineered at Audible Images. Album art is by Joanne Wiggins with design by DM Stith.

April 25, 2017


NYC Premiere of Rounder Songs, World Premiere of new Sean Friar piece are highlights

NEW YORK – April 25, 2017 – NOW Ensemble kicks off its spring season this week with a performance on Carnegie Hall’s Neighborhood Concert Series in Washington Heights, followed by a four-city tour of Southern California anchored by a residency at UCLA.

NOW Ensemble presents the NYC premiere of Rounder Songs by Patrick Burke and Emily Pinkerton on the Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert Series at Our Saviour’s Atonement Lutheran Church on Sunday, April 30 at 5:00 PM. Rounder Songs is a cycle of five songs for voice, claw hammer banjo, and NOW Ensemble, that reimagines old Appalachian songs about devious characters and transforms them into lucid, haunting chamber works for the 21st century.

From May 3-6, NOW Ensemble will be in residence at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA). The residency culminates with a world premiere performance of Sean Friar’s Before and After on Saturday, May 6 at 8:00 PM in Schoenberg Hall. Before and After was made possible by a grant from the Fromm Music Foundation.

On Tuesday, May 9 at 7:00 PM, NOW Ensemble will perform at the San Diego Museum of Art, the first of several performances as Art of Élan’s inaugural Ensemble-in-Residence, a designation that continues through the 2017-18 season.

Rounding out the tour, NOW Ensemble will give performances on the Outpost Music Series at UC-Riverside on Tuesday, May 2 at 7:00 PM, and at Cal State Long Beach on Monday, May 8 at 8:00 PM.

In addition to premieres by Patrick Burke, Emily Pinkerton, and Sean Friar, NOW Ensemble will present works by Judd Greenstein, Mark Dancigers, David Crowell, and Ellis Ludwig-Leone. Additionally, NOW will premiere close to a dozen new works by emerging composers at UCLA and Cal State Long Beach as a part of its educational mission to support the work of younger composers.

Time Out New York has described NOW Ensemble as having "...the formal elegance of chamber music with a pop-honed concision and rhythmic vitality.” I Care If You Listen describes the music of Sean Friar as “powerfully engaging and incredibly fun.”

NOW Ensemble – Spring Tour, April-May 2017

Sunday, April 30, 2017 | 5:00 p.m. | Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert, NY, NY

Tuesday, May 2, 2017 | 7:00 p.m. | Outpost Music Series, Culver Ctr. for the Arts, UC – Riverside

Saturday, May 6 | 8:00 p.m. | Dobrow Series, Schoenberg Hall, UCLA

Monday, May 8 | 8:00 p.m. | Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, Cal State Long Beach

Tuesday, May 9 | 7:00 p.m. | Art of Élan Ensemble-in-Residence, San Diego Museum of Art

NOW Ensemble is a 501(c)(3) organization and has received support from the New York State Council for the Arts, the Aaron Copland Fund for New Music, New Music USA, and the Fromm Foundation.

More information at

Media contact:

January 11, 2017


Joint performance on the Ecstatic Music Festival kicks off three-city tour

NEW YORK – January 11, 2017 – The post-classical chamber ensemble NOW Ensemble and indie rock band San Fermin join forces for a three-city tour in late January, 2017. This tour marks the first collaboration between the two award-winning ensembles.

Beginning with a main stage performance on New York City’s Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Concert Hall on Wednesday, January 25, the tour takes the two ensembles to the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy, New York on Thursday, January 26, and CRASHfest at the House of Blues in Boston, Massachusetts on Saturday, January 28.

Time Out New York has described NOW Ensemble as having "...the formal elegance of chamber music with a pop-honed concision and rhythmic vitality.” NPR has called San Fermin’s songs “as easy to love as they are to admire.”

NOW Ensemble and San Fermin will come together to present the world premieres of new works by San Fermin’s Ellis Ludwig-Leone and NOW Ensemble’s Mark Dancigers, as well as new arrangements of San Fermin songs for the combined ensemble. NOW Ensemble will also perform Mark Dancigers’ Dreamfall, from NOW Ensemble’s 2015 eponymous album.

NOW Ensemble – San Fermin Tour, January 2017

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 | 7:30 p.m. | Ecstatic Music Festival (Merkin Concert Hall, NYC)

Thursday, January 26, 2017 | 7:30 p.m. | Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, NY

Saturday, January 28, 2017 | 5:30 p.m. | CRASHfest, House of Blues, Boston, MA

NOW Ensemble is a 501(c)(3) organization and has received support from the New York State Council for the Arts, the Aaron Copland Fund for New Music, New Music USA, and the Fromm Foundation.

More information at

Media contact: