Ensemble Modern Orchestra with Vimbayi Kaziboni

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 | Prinzregententheater Munich| 8.00 pm


Heiner Goebbels, Vimbayi Kaziboni © LMN Berlin

Heiner Goebbels [*1952]

A House of Call. My Imaginary Notebook [2020]
Munich premiere as part of the Ensemble Modern Orchestra tour

Commissioned by Ensemble Modern, Berliner Festspiele/Musikfest Berlin, musica viva des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Kölner Philharmonie, Wien Modern, beuys2021 and Casa da Música Porto.


Ensemble Modern Orchestra
Vimbayi Kaziboni, conductor
Heiner Goebbels, lighting design
Norbert Ommer, sound design

This project forms part of BTHVN 2020. Supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

The guest performance of the Ensemble Modern Orchestra in Munich is made possible by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation.


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about the Programme

Ensemble Modern Orchestra already featured an orchestral piece by Heiner Goebbles on the programme of its very first tour in 1998. Now the composer, responding to an initiative from the Berlin Festival and Ensemble Modern, has given this Frankfurt group a new cycle.

A House of Call. My Imaginary Notebook is a four-part cycle of compositions in which Ensemble Modern Orchestra will react to voices that Goebbels has preserved in an imaginary notebook – voices that he stumbled upon, sometimes by accident, during projects, journeys, encounters or archival work. They now return to “set the tone” with their own sounds and languages: dialogues, conjurations, prayers, invocations, appeals, speech-acts, songs. These unique and “idiosyncratic” voices will be allowed to resound on a concert stage, most of them for the very first time. The orchestra’s musicians will answer them individually or collectively like the chorus in a responsory, whether to commentate, interrupt, reinforce or contradict.

“a prolonged visit to a house of call” is a line on page 41 of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, not far from the onomatopoetic “roaratorio” that would give its name to an audio piece by John Cage. Cage’s piece left a lasting impression on me, for in the midst of a stream of multiple voices he reads through the 628 pages of Joyce’s novel, mesostic by mesostic, like “sung writing of language”. Those are the words that Roland Barthes used to describe the “grain of the voice” (le grain de la voix), and this grain, or roughness, is what the voices that found their way into my imaginary notebook have in common.

Heiner Goebbels, 2020

The attraction of absent, acousmatic voices has played a major role in many of Goebbels’s works, whether in his first single Berlin Kudamm 12.4.81 (1981), Chaconne / Kantorloops from Surrogate Cities (1994), the performance Stifters Dinge (2007), the sound installation Genko-An (2008– ) or his audio pieces. In A House of Call the voices become, for the first time, the protagonists of an entire concert.

The premiere will be given in the Philharmonie during the Berlin Festival on August 30, 2021. The work will then be performed at the Bavarian Radio’s musica viva series in Munich’s Prinzregententheater on September 28.

the concert on the Radio

BR-KLASSIK will broadcast the live recording of the concert on the radio on September 29, starting at 8.05 pm.

To the broadcast

more about the programme

try outs

Have a look behind the scenes of the composition process.

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