A cairn is a small pile of stones found in the mountains. It serves as a signpost or path for those that venture there, and each passer-by adds his or her stone to the pile. This was probably our own wish, too: to create the feeling, during our concerts, of a listening path, to put quite different types of music side by side, to allow audiences to hear the cohesion among the members of the Cairn ensemble, to put together programmes that are like objects themselves, like musical compositions.
Cairn Ensemble has existed since 1998. Jérôme Combier is its artistic director, and Guillaume Bourgogne its musical director. Cairn Ensemble's intention 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 : the ensemble has had encounters with the jazz musicians Marc Ducret, John Hollenbeck and the famous Fado singer Cristina Branco. The Cairn ensemble wishes to be a group that has a conductor as well as a group that gives rigorous performances of chamber music.
Today Cairn is based in Région-Centre Val de Loire and in residency at the theater of Orléans. It is supported by La Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles and by Le Conseil Régional as a National Ensemble. From 2006 to 2009 Cairn was in residency at the Royaumont Abbey, Cairn as been the guest of famous festivals including Manifest (Ircam), Archipel (Geneva), Tage für Neue Musik (Zurich), Darmstadt Tage für Neue Musik (Germany), Borealis (Norway), Festival d'Automne à Paris, as well as the Villa Médicis (Italy)
Cairn worked with many composers and has done 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 and Gérard Pesson for the Æon label, and was awarded the Grand Prix du disque of Charles Cros Accademy for its recording of Jérôme Combier's cycle Vies silencieuses.