der/gelbe/klang: We gave you carte jaune, total freedom, to choose any pieces you wanted to perform with our ensemble. How did you shape it? What led your decisions?

Vimbay Kaziboni: For me the starting point was Gérard Grisey. I was thinking about the instrumentation of der/gelbe/klang and then I asked myself: Which piece considering the instrumentation of the ensemble speaks best within my heart and Grisey, one of my favourite composers was a natural starting point. So then I realized that I wanted to make a program of just my friends. I started with Grisey. I never met him while he was alive, but I feel like he’s a very close and dear friend. Since I first encountered and performed his music as a student more than a decade ago I’ve always had a deep affinity to his music, a feeling of true love. I don’t speak in French with Grisey, I speak in Shona, my mother tongue. That’s how close I feel to Grisey. So I knew where I wanted to end. Then I asked myself what music would best prepare us for Grisey? I was thinking about the interludes in Vortex Temporum. In this composition there are three big meals. And within them are three intermezzos of sort. I wanted to do the same thing in the first half of the concert. In place of the interludes I would put theatrical performance-art works. Two of these performance pieces are ones that I have done many times. The first one is Lighting by Yoko Ono. Lighting is for me very much a sacred ritual. I always like to start the program with Lighting because it kind of gets us into the space of fun and adventure. The feeling that something unexpected is going to happen. I like concerts like that – where you have no idea what is going to happen. The other two pieces come from my life back when I was a student in Los Angeles. I spent six years there. With my friend Jack Stulz we started a festival of music from California. Two of the composers I met back then were Arthur Jarvinen and Alan Shockley. Arthur Jarvinen has a book of very funny theatrical works called Adult Party Games from the Leisure Planet. They are Fluxus-like works. Tonight we’ll do one of the works performed as a duo for violin and viola with cassette tape. Alan Shockley’s music is a mix of modernist aesthetics with rock and roll and pop sounds. I thought it would be interesting to bring him on stage. Unfortunately both composers have deceased so it was important to me to pay an homage to these three friends: Alan, Arthur, and Gérard. The other three pieces, including my own salaciously titled theatrical work, come from my life in Boston where I have lived for the last 5 years. His House is not of this Land by Jonathan Bailey Holland and Arye…I shall not forget the sound of… by Chaya Czernowin. Both are my dear friends and it felt special for me to bring their music here to Munich as part of my curation.

der/gelbe/klang: I asked you when you we were last time at home and you said it’s been a very long time. So here I am with the question: can you tell us more about the upsides and the downsides of being, working, making a living as a conductor?
Vimbay Kaziboni:Well, I haven’t been home in about 2 months now. When I am making music it is the most joyful moments of my life. When I am in front of the ensemble, in front of an orchestra and we are making music, and solving musical problems – that’s a lot of fun for me. Even the worst possible musical day is still fun. The issue is that I have to travel to get to every place … and I hate travelling. I really hate travelling. I hate every aspect of travelling. I hate buying my ticket, I hate packing, I hate carrying my suitcase down the stairs, I hate the taxi ride to the airport, I hate waiting in line, I hate sitting on the flight and waiting seven-eight hours to get to Europe. Every aspect of travelling I despise. And yet it pays off every time. There is no moment in which it doesn’t pay off, when I finally am making music. So, you know, that’s part of the struggle and it’s a struggle that I love and one that gives me joy.

der/gelbe/klang: And now the silly question:
What’s your favourite colour?
Vimbay Kaziboni: Well, this week it’s naturally yellow 😉 But more truthfully, to quote Nina Simone or Luciano Berio,
or whoever actually wrote the song: “black, black, black is the colour of my true love’s hair… “

Interview: Zinajda Kodrič