Classical Performers (Reading Ensemble)

This approach addresses the problems that may arise in many contemporary music pieces by, for example, Stravinsky, Varèse, Béla Bartók, Messaien, Xenakis, Boulez, Elliot Carter, Ferneyhough and Ligeti, as well as more recent composers.

The main objective is to provide rhythmical tools that will help the student  achieve a higher degree of accuracy and confidence. South Indian classical music not only makes use of one of the most complex rhythmical systems, but in addition, has very clear and practical teaching and exercise methods.

This approach, directed at performers of all instruments is organised in an ensemble situation: the number of students in a group will be between four and seven. The course runs for the whole year. (For study points and framework see below).

The first year provides the essential rhythmical base for all classical musicians: the programme addresses the necessary techniques to perform western music composed from the beginning of the 20th century up to the 1950s, as well as more recent music that essentially uses the same level of rhythmical intricacy (in general, music that most professionals are bound to encounter in an orchestral or ensemble situation).

In the remaining three years the techniques imparted focus on catering to the needs of music from the 1950s on. The classes cover material that can be found in rhythmically demanding pieces that could already be considered ‘classics’, by composers like E. Varèse, E. Carter, O. Messiaen, P. Boulez, L. Berio, I. Xenakis, G. Ligeti, T. Murail, K. Stockhausen, M. Finnissy, B. Ferneyhough, to mention just a few well-known composers.
Each year, in the last two months, every student will prepare a duo or trio piece of contemporary music (eventually a solo). The teacher will show and help the student how to implement the different techniques studied during the year in the chosen piece. A presentation with all the pieces will take place at the end of the year. Collaboration with the composers following the composition approach of the programme is highly encouraged.

Course structure

Classes take place once a week and are of 2 hours' duration. The maximum number of lessons that can be missed is 6 out of the 28 theory/exercise lessons that take place until mid-April. In the last 8 weeks (mid-April to mid-June), for the preparation of the final piece, instead of regular lessons, meetings are scheduled to work on pieces whenever possible for the students and teachers. Homework requires no less than an average of 45 minutes a day. The final grade is based on:

  • Proficiency of material in  the performance at the end of each year.
  • Theory exam at the end of the  year.
  • Attendance, homework and attitude.

The four-year programme has a 12-week introductory course. The student should have completed or should follow it at the same time as the first year of the programme.


The 4-year programme ‘Contemporary music through non-western techniques’, due to its characteristics, grants the student a high number of credits.

  • Bachelors: 10 credits per year.
  • Masters: 10 credits per year (10 in the first year as a masters subject and 10 for the second year as individual credits).

Although we encourage students to take as many electives as possible to broaden their horizons, they should consider the amount of time and work that this programme demands. Therefore, we advise students, especially if they would like to follow two or more years of the programme, not to take too many elective courses (bachelors) or masters subjects.