In celebration of Heiner Goebbels 70th birthday

Upcoming Ensemble Modern Events

Heiner Goebbels is a fixture in contemporary musical theatre and renowned for his creative compositions, merging text, music and stage action in a grand whole. He has been a close and valued collaborator of Ensemble Modern for more than 35 years. In mid-August, the composer celebrated his 70th birthday. Ensemble Modern performs three works by Heiner Goebbels in various European cities during the coming months.

On September 14 the Ensemble Modern Orchestra performs the much-acclaimed, evening-length cycle “A House of Call. My Imaginary Notebook” (2020) as part of the festival FRATOPIA at the main auditorium of the Alte Oper Frankfurt. “A House of Call” is a cycle for large orchestra featuring calls, appeals, invocations, speeches and poems. On November 19 “A House of Call” will be performed as part of Wien Modern at Vienna’s Volkstheater. This acoustic “life diary” featuring sounds from all genres and voices from all over the world has also recently been released on CD by ECM Records (ECM New Series 2728/29). Goebbels’ earlier recordings with Ensemble Modern in the ECM New Series include “Red Run/Befreiung/La Jalousie”, “Eislermaterial” and “Landschaft mit entfernten Verwandten”.

On September 23 and 24 a performance of “Schwarz auf Weiß” (1995/96) follows at the Festival Musica at the Théâtre du Maillon in Strasbourg. And on November 4, 5 and 6, the musical theatre work returns to the place of its world premiere, the Bockenheimer Depot in Frankfurt. In 1995/96, Goebbels wrote his first musical theatre piece, tailoring it to Ensemble Modern’s strengths, so to speak. Here, the collective of the ensemble itself is the protagonist. The musicians are the actors as well, conquering the full breadth of the stage. Tennis balls land on a gran cassa drum, tender sounds of a koto are heard, a kettle whistles along with a complex flute melody. The scenes and events continuously flow into one another, and the lighting spaces ingeniously devised by Jean Kalman contribute their own dramaturgy.

Freedom of action – “Liberté d’action” (2021) – on stage and in life is the subject of Heiner Goebbels’ latest, eponymous work, a staged concert, a contest between the performer David Bennent and Ensemble Modern’s pianists. The work focuses on the oeuvre of a maladjusted maverick and outsider: Henri Michaux, an outstanding painter and also a highly modern poet of powerful eloquence. First performed at the Kunstfestspiele Herrenhausen in 2021, the work will be revived on September 25 at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, on September 28 at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris and on November 27 in Cluj, Romania.