As a violinist EK’s performance of Bach’s solo works, Mozart’s violin concertos, and his commitment to contemporary music soon earned him a prominent place among the soloists of his generation. Many composers, such as Ernst Krenek, Friedrich Cerha, Robin Holloway, Nigel Osborne, Heinz-Karl Gruber, Kurt Schwertsik, Ivan Eröd, Rainer Bischof, Georg-Friedrich Haas, Karlheinz Essl, Beat Furrer, Django Bates, Johannes-Maria Staud, Clemens Gadenstätter to name a few, have written works for him.
In the early nineties he begins working with a number of chamber orchestras as a ‘directing soloist’, which soon gives way to a designated career as a conductor. From 1996 to 1998 EK was the artistic and head director of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra.
He plays with or conducts the Scottish, Irish, and English Chamber Orchestras, the Northern Sinfonia, ESO, the Britten Sinfonia, the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, the Camerata Nordica, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Klangforum Wien, Ensemble Modern, BIT20 Ensemble, the Camerata Bern, the Camerata Salzburg, and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, as well as the Ulster Orchestra, Wellington Symphony Orchestra, NÖ Tonkünstler, Vaermland Symphony, recreation Graz, Esbjerg Ensemble, PHACE contemporary music, among others.
From 2007 to June 2014 he has been the artistic director of the Chamber Orchestra Leopoldinum in Wrocław, Poland. With this orchestra he has appeared at the Flanders Festival, the Brückenfestival, and the Arcana Festival, at Warsaw Autumn and the Beethoven Festival Warszaw, the LEO Festival and the Festival Wratislavia Cantans in Wroclaw, in Berlin, Budapest etc.. Recordings include Ernst Krenek’s string and chamber orchestra works for Capriccio and Toccata Classics; CD Accord released a recording of Beethoven’s “Konzertstück” for Violin and Orchestra, Lutosławski’s “Preludes and Fugue for 13 Solo Strings”, and “Art of Fugue”, an overview of the development of the fugue from Baroque to the present; CDs with string orchestra works by the Polish composer Hanna Kulenty (2011) and Leos Janacek (2013) on DUX, and Alban Berg by Arrangements (2014) on Toccata Classics. Further projects with this orchestra are concerts at the ISCM World Music days 2014 and a concert with Mozarts famous violinconcertos (2015).
Ernst Kovacic continues to perform as a soloist. Moreover, since 2008 he has been working with the violist Steve Dann (Toronto) and the cellist Anssi Karttunen (Paris) as the Zebra Trio, that in addition to performing traditional trio repertoire is especially dedicated to encouraging new compositions for this genre. Most recently the three musicians performed new trios including world premieres by Friedrich Cerha and Kaja Saariaho, Rolf Wallin, and Mirek Srnka.
EK is a teacher at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, where he conducts master classes and seminars. Together with Beat Furrer he founded the “Impuls” seminars for composers and interpreters of contemporary music. This series takes place every two years in Graz and in 2015 will be held for the ninth time.
EK implements his program ideas as the curator of several festivals and concert cycles. He was in charge of the successful series “Crossing Mozart” and “Crossing Haydn”, among others, at the Musikverein, Vienna. He has been the artistic director of the Brückenfestival in Styria and the LEO Festival in Wrocław since 2009. In addition, as chairman of the board of the Ernst Krenek Private Foundation in Krems (Austria) since 2002 he has been instrumental in building the Foundation into what it is today.