Official Program

Heiner Goebbels & Ensemble Modern

Black on White

AllJapan premiereMusicTheaterVisual Art

October 27−October 28, 2017Kyoto Art Theater Shunjuza


Official Program

Heiner Goebbels & Ensemble Modern

Black on White

The legendary pioneering work in the aesthetics of absence from an avant-garde composer and leading music ensemble

Making his long-awaited debut at Kyoto Experiment, Heiner Goebbels is a German composer who started his acclaimed career in the 1980s. Written especially for the leading chamber orchestra Ensemble Modern, Black on White is one of his signature works and has been performed at international festivals all over the world.

The sound of a pen writing on paper overlaps with that of a text being read. Finally, the musicians come on stage. As they prepare their instruments, some write while others make sounds. The performance begins with the creation of this installation-like space, transforming suddenly into a concert. They play a variety of pieces, ranging from contemporary classical to jazz, black and religious music. A rich soundscape emerges, mixing the music of the instruments with all manner of other choreographed noises such as a tennis ball with a bass drum, a flute with a kettle, and recitation of texts.

This tapestry of sounds invites the audience to find their interests and themselves within what they see and hear. The “center” of the performance is absent, while the center is simultaneously also the dead who are not on stage. As such, the performance utilizes the voice of the important East German playwright Heiner Müller reading from the novel Shadow by Edgar Allan Poe. For Goebbels, who composed music for Müller’s plays, this serves as a kind of in-joke as well as a requiem for his late collaborator.


October 27 (Fri)19:30-
October 28 (Sat)15:00-

Post-performance Talk: October 28
Duration: 80 min.


Kyoto Art Theater Shunjuza 2-116 Uryuyama Kitashirakawa, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8271
-From Kitaoji Station (Municipal Subway Karasuma Line), take the Kyoto City Bus 204 towards “Takano / Ginkakuji” and alight at “Kamihatecho Kyoto Zoukei Geidai-mae”.



Multilingual performance with Japanese and English surtitles

Ticket Prices

Adult Advance ¥5,000
Day ¥5,500
Youth , Students Advance ¥3,000
Day ¥3,500
High School Students & Younger Advance ¥1,000
Day ¥1,000
Pair ¥9,500 (advance only)

Youth Tickets: available for those aged up to 25 years old.


Advance tickets on sale from 11:00 / August 8, 2017


Day Tickets

Same day tickets will be available for each performance at the venue box office one hour before the performance starts.

The latest information on ticket availability will be updated below at 11:30am on the day of each performance. We also accept ticket availability inquiries by phone.
Ticket Center: 075-213-0820 (11:00-20:00).



Heiner Goebbels

© Olympia Orlova for OPPeople

A composer and director, Heiner Goebbels was born in 1952 and is based in Frankfurt am Main. At university he majored in sociology and music. His work includes music theater as well as compositions for concert recital, radio, ensembles and large-scale orchestras. From the 1990s he has composed and directed an original style of “music theater,” including Black on White (1996) for Ensemble Modern. His work has been performed to great acclaim at major international festivals. His other output includes a stint with an experimental rock group, Cassiber, as well as installations for many art exhibitions and museums such as the Centre Pompidou Paris. He is currently a professor at the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies of the Justus Liebig University in Giessen and President of Theatre Academy Hessen. He is also the recipient of numerous international accolades for his work, including two Grammy Award nominations, the International Ibsen Award 2012, and an honorary doctorate from Birmingham City University.

Ensemble Modern

© Katrin Schilling

Founded in 1980 the Ensemble Modern is one of the world’s leading ensembles for contemporary music. Currently, the Ensemble unites 20 soloists from ten countries, all of whom contribute to the ensemble’s rich cultural background. Resident in Frankfurt am Main, the Ensemble is famous for its special organisational structure, unlike any other in the world: there is no artistic director; all its members are responsible for jointly selecting and implementing projects, co-productions and financial matters. Its unique and distinctive programme includes musical theatre, dance and video projects, chamber music, ensemble and orchestral concerts. Ensemble Modern gives approximately 100 concerts each year at renowned festivals, such as the Salzburg Festival, Musikfest Berlin, Lincoln Center Festival (New York), Festival d’Automne à Paris, Lucerne Festival, as well as outstanding venues worldwide, such as Cologne’s Philharmonie, Konzerthaus Berlin and Philharmonie Essen. The ensemble strives to achieve the highest possible degree of authenticity by working closely with composers. Its work is characterised by long-term cooperative ventures with renowned artists, such as John Adams, Heiner Goebbels, György Kurtág, György Ligeti, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Steve Reich and Frank Zappa. Many of the ensemble’s CD recordings have gone on to win ECHO Awards and the Prize of the German Record Critics, as well as several Grammy nominations. Ensemble Modern was declared a ›Leuchtturm‹ or ›beacon‹ of contemporary culture in Germany in 2003 by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.

Heiner Goebbels & Ensemble Modern, Black on White © Christian Schafferer

Heiner Goebbels & Ensemble Modern, Black on White © Christian Schafferer

Heiner Goebbels & Ensemble Modern, Black on White © Christian Schafferer

Heiner Goebbels & Ensemble Modern, Black on White © Wonge Bergmann


Conceived, composed and directed by
Heiner Goebbels
Set and light design
Jean Kalman
Costume design
Jasmin Andreae
Sound engineer
Norbert Ommer
Assistants to the director
Stephan Buchberger
Production manager
Michael K. Schmidt
Master electrician
Frank Kraus
Lighting technician
Holger Kress
Stage manager
Marcel Heyde
Set assistant
Thorsten Knöss
Sound technician
Volker Bernhart
Costume assistant
Janina Baldhuber
Cast (Ensemble Modern)
Dietmar Wiesner (piccolo, bass flute)
Catherine Miliken (oboe, digeridoo, vocals)
Roland Diry (clarinet)
Mathias Stich (contrabass clarinet, saxophone)
Barbara Kehrig (bassoon)
Saar Berger (horn)
William Forman (trumpet)
Uwe Dierksen (trombone)
Hermann Kretzschmar (accordion, sampler, cimbalom)
Ueli Wiget (clavichord, harp)
Rumi Ogawa (cimbalom, percussion, speaker)
Rainer Römer (percussion)
Jagdish Mistry, violin)
Swantje Tessmann (violin)
Freya Ritts-Kirby (viola, vocals)
Eva Böcker (cello)
Michael M. Kasper (cello)
Joachim Tinnefeld (double bass, electric bass)
In co-operation with
Kyoto City University of Arts Faculty of Music, Goethe-Institut Villa Kamogawa
Supported by
the Agency of Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan in the fiscal 2017
Presented by
Kyoto Experiment, Kyoto Performing Arts Center at Kyoto University of Art and Design