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The Ensemble InterContemporain is a sort of chamber orchestra that specializes in contemporary classical music.
Ensemble InterContemporain was formed in 1976 by Pierre Boulez. It was conceived as a group of 31 soloists, who could play orchestral literature, or literature for any combination of instruments. At first, the idea was for the ensemble to be more flexible than an orchestra. A composer could just not write for any instrument that she or he did not want in the ensemble, rather than being confined by the standard instrumentation of orchestral literature. This model has become quite prevailent in contemporary classical music for a variety of reasons, including the financial difficulties of orchestras in the late 1990's and early 2000's (having fewer people means that the ensemble can be cheaper to maintain), and the increased responsibility that the smaller ensemble placed upon each player (there is less dead weight in this sort of ensemble).