A cairn is a small pile of stones found in the mountains. It serves as a signpost or path for those who venture there, and each passerby adds his or her stone to the pile. This was probably our own wish, too: to create the feeling, in our concerts, of a listening path, juxtapose different types of music, to allow audiences to hear the cohesion among the members of the Cairn ensemble, and to put together programs that are like objects themselves, like musical compositions.
Cairn Ensemble was founded in 1998. Jérôme Combier is its artistic director, and Guillaume Bourgogne its musical director. Cairn Ensemble's ambition is to create high-quality contemporary music concerts. Some of Cairn's concerts confront other art forms, such as the plastic arts, photography and video, as well as other types of music such as jazz, improvisation and traditional music. The Cairn Ensemble strives to be a group with conductor as well as a group that gives rigorous performances of chamber music.
Actually Cairn is based in Région-Centre Val de Loire and in residency at the National Theater of Orléans. It is supported by the Regional Department for Cultural Affairs (DRAC) and the Regional Council as a National and International Ensemble. From 2006 to 2009 Cairn was in residency at the Royaumont Abbey, Cairn has been the guest of famous festivals including Manifeste (IRCAM), Musica (Strasbourg), Archipel (Geneva), Festival d'Automne à Paris, Tage für Neue Musik (Zurich), Darmstadt Ferienkurse (Germany), Borealis (Norway), Ars Musica (Belgium) as well as the Villa Médicis (Italy).
Cairn has worked with many composers and given many world premieres. Gérard Pesson, Tristan Murail, Philippe Leroux, Thierry Blondeau, Raphaël Cendo, Jean-Luc Hervé, Francesco Filidei, Noriko Baba, Franck Bedrossian, Philippe Schœller, Marc Ducret, John Hollenbeck, Cristina Branco, Alban Richard, Pierre Nouvel are exemples of important relations for the Ensemble. Cairn has recorded works by Olivier Schneller (Wergo) and by Thierry Blondeau, Raphaël Cendo for the Æon label, and was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque de l’Académie Charles Cros for its recording of Jérôme Combier's cycle Vies silencieuses.