Ensemble Modern Orchestra
Vimbayi Kaziboni, conductor
Once again, the innovative force of the Ensemble Modern Orchestra is united with Heiner Goebbels’ genre-crossing composition style: On the occasion of the Beethoven Year, Heiner Goebbels will write a new work to be premiered at Musikfest Berlin 2020.
The Ensemble Modern Orchestra featured an orchestral piece by Heiner Goebbels as early as 1998, on their foundation tour. At the initiative of Musikfest Berlin and Ensemble Modern and on the occasion of the Beethoven Year, the composer and director will create a new work for the ensemble from Frankfurt, exploring its nature of a polyphonic collective. In this context, polyphony goes far beyond the purely musical dimension, the simultaneity of separate musical processes. It also includes those elements that inform the symphony concert as cultural practice: From its spatial arrangements and the movements of the musicians to the lighting situation in the concert hall. This full-length work will question historically evolved conventions, hierarchies and long-practised rituals with the intention of liberating the diversity inherent to the orchestra, both as a musical body and a social organism.
“I had an astonishing experience at the Berlin Philharmonie in 2002 – not during a concert but rather during a working break, when the orchestra’s set-up was rearranged. Simon Rattle had previously been working on my orchestra piece “Aus einem Tagebuch” with the Berlin Philharmoniker, and Beethoven’s 3rd piano concert was scheduled for after the break – the orchestra had left the stage. Only Simon Stockhausen was working at the keyboard, correcting the volume and tempo of some machine sounds that are played as samples in my composition. Alfred Brendel entered the stage and started warming up with a few bars of Beethoven’s piano concerto, entirely unflustered by the industrial noises. And then, a senior stage technician walked into the middle of the stage and began to call out the height of the stage rostra that had to be adjusted for the new orchestra set-up: “Forty-five! Forty-seven! Fifty!“ Neither Brendel nor Stockhausen took any notice. Nobody made a fuss, all three of them were professionals who did their job with complete focus. The machine noises, Beethoven-fragments and series of numbers proceeded quite independently and equitably. Sound, music, voice – they all had their place in a relaxed, natural, almost utopian coexistence: unhierarchical and each to its own.
In this moment not only an unusual music emerged, but also a very unusual image for this stage, which is oriented towards its centre – three people from different social and aesthetic spheres, looking in different directions, and a stage that seemed to be moved by an invisible hand.”
Following the world premiere at the Philharmonie as part of Musikfest Berlin, the work will be performed at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, in the series musica viva of Bayerischer Rundfunk in Munich, at the Cologne Philharmonie and at the festival Wien Modern.
Heiner Goebbels (*1952)
A cycle for the für das Ensemble Modern Orchestra (2020)
Commissioned by Ensemble Modern, Berliner Festspiele / Musikfest Berlin, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, musica viva / Bayerischer Rundfunk, Kölner Philharmonie, Wien Modern and beuys2021