The ensemble courage was founded in 1997 in Dresden. Meanwhile it has established itself as one of the leading ensembles for contemporary music in Germany. Since its debut concert ensemble courage has consistently received critical acclaim and enthusiastic audience support for its high quality concert performances and ambitious and unusually diverse programming. The group has a core of 15 musicians and presents concerts with repertoire ranging from solo compositions to chamber symphony size works. Alongside its own performance season in Dresden the ensemble presents concerts at festivals such as Ars Nova (SWR), Dresden Festival for Contemporary Music, Global Ear, INMF Darmstadt, International Festival of Contemporary Music Tashkent, Musica Viva Munich and Maerzmusik Berlin.
Sponsored by the prestigious Siemens Arts Program, the City of Dresden, the Deutscher Musikrat, and the State of Saxony the ensemble has given premiere performances by established composers such as Chaya Czernowin, Gerhard Staebler, Sidney Corbett, Christopher Fox, Helena Tulve and Michael Hirsch as well as dozens of premieres by emerging composers.
In 2004 it premiered a program with miniature operas by Tamara Ibragimowa, Benjamin Schweitzer and Charlotte Seither as part of the Dresden Festival of Contemporary Music.
Concerts of the ensemble have been recorded and broadcast by nationwide and European radio stations. In 2002 the ensemble's debut solo cd was released on the "en avant"-label. In 2008 ensemble courage will present the premiere recording of Chaya Czernovin's Winter Songs. Additional recordings have been released on the Wergo and MD-Radio labels.
In 2001 ensemble courage received the emerging artists Prize by the "Ernst-von-Siemens Foundation for Music" (Förderpreis für Musik) , in 2004 it was awarded the "Cultural Prize of the City of Dresden", and for its 2007-8 season it is the recipient of grants by the Music Council of Germany (Deutscher Musikrat).
The main focus of the ensemble's repertoire are works by young, emerging international composers. In addition to traditional concert repertoire the group presents experimental and unconventional concerts involving improvisation, musical theatre and "cross-over"-projects, such as "noize-creator", a collaborative program with musicians from the ensemble and DJs from the Dresden underground music scene, as well as exchange projects with London's ensemble Apartment House and the Argento Ensemble from New York.
Sponsored by the Goethe Institute and the German Academy Villa Massimo in Rome the ensemble has presented concerts in Finland, Slovenia, Usbekistan and Italy. Currently the group is preparing a tour of four countries in the Middle East for 2009.
The ensemble courage was founded by the Dresden composer Benjamin Schweitzer. In 2000 Titus Engel was appointed principal conductor. Since 2005 the ensemble is under the artistic direction of Berlin-based composer and curator Oliver Schneller. Carsten Gerth is its managing director.
Since 2004 the ensemble is closely assiociated with the European Center for the Arts in Dresden-Hellerau.