VENI Ensemble is the oldest among the still-existing ensembles of contemporary music in Slovakia. Its existence has lasted continually since 1988. It is also the ensemble with the largest number of members in terms of musicians who worked with it or were its guests. It is also the ensemble which gave rise to the greatest number of other groups with wide variety of style orientations and repertoire preferences.
The impulse for the establishment of the ensemble was mainly a lack of options to present works of Slovak composers of the then younger generation as well as the western or American contemporary music scene. The aim of the foundation was to enrich Slovak concert life with alternatives and to some extent with a provocative element, which since the collapse of avant-garde of the 60s was almost totally absent. The founder and “spiritus movens” of this ensemble is a composer and theoretician Daniel Matej, who brought together composers Martin Burlas, Peter Zagar, Marek Piaček, which performed there as instrumentalists, and a number of young Slovak performers, many of which eventually ranked among the top of Slovak performing arts.
The basis of the repertoire of VENI Ensemble is music of 20th century composers who stood outside of the “mainstream” and outside of the interest of the majority of official music institutions, such as Erik Satie, Charles Ives, Giacinto Scelsi, so-called New York Avant-Garde (John Cage, Earle Brown, Morton Feldman), minimal music, and authors of the postminimal and postcage orientation. In connection with the visit of John Cage the ensemble in May 1992 promoted his music (projects WHY CAGE – portrait '80 and OPEN CAGE), likewise in 1995 they promoted the music of Satie or Ives.
In 20 years of its existence, VENI Ensemble has attended more than 100 performances on festival stages and individual concerts mainly in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, but also in other European countries, making it one of the best known and most important Slovak ensemble with a focus on contemporary music. It was a regular guest of the festivals New Slovak Music, Evenings of New Music, for which it is the resident ensemble (after the regime collapse), and Melos Ethos. Quite often it performs in Czech territory: Municipal Library of Prague, Forfest '91 Kroměříž, Babí Lom '92 in Lelekovice near Brno, presentations Studio of New Music and Marathon of Contemporary Music in Prague, and Exposition of New Music in Brno.
Important events of the ensemble are performing in The Leap To Meaning – An International Art Symposium, Bowen Island by Vancouver in Canada (2000), performing four operas in the Theatre Stoka in Bratislava (2001), regular performances in festival (new) Music At Home in Synagogue in Šamorín, Slovakia (since 2004). In 2005, 2006 and 2008 the ensemble successfully performed at the summer festival Bažant Pohoda. In 2008 the ensemble celebrated its 20th anniversary by concert series VENI – Twenty Years After, in which they performed with distinguished guests (Elliott Sharp and Hilary Jeffery on the Evening of New Music), which was met with an extraordinary response from the audience.