Vimbayi Kaziboni Wins 2024 Ditson Conductor's Award

Described as a conductor of “great intensity, without distancing, maneuvering, without indifference” (Neue Muzikzeitung - Leipzig), Zimbabwean-born conductor Vimbayi Kaziboni is the recipient of the 2024 Alice M. Ditson Fund Conductor’s Award. He has received $5,000 and a citation from Columbia’s President Minouche Shafik. Widely sought-after for his depth of approach, interpretive imagination, and expressivity, as well as his innovative and thoughtful curation, Kaziboni has led many critically lauded performances with orchestras across the globe, performing at some of the most prestigious concert halls in the world, including Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Hall, Royal Concertgebouw, Berlin Philharmonie, Elbphilharmonie, Philharmonie de Paris, Royal Festival Hall & Queen Elizabeth Hall at Southbank Centre, and at Lincoln Center.

Recent collaborators have included the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra, Geneva Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Intercontemporain, London Sinfonietta, Klangforum Wien, International Contemporary Ensemble, and the Martha Graham Dance Company, among many others. Upcoming debuts include performances with the SWR Symphonieorchester, Musikkollegium Winterhur, New World Symphony, City of Birmingham New Music Group, and the American Composers Orchestra. Return engagements this season include the BBC Philharmonic, Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra, Ensemble Modern & Ensemble Modern Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. 

The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University established the Conductor’s Award in 1945. It is the oldest continuing award honoring conductors for distinguished contributions to American music. Previous recipients include David Zinman, Alan Gilbert, George Manahan, Leonard Bernstein, Cliff Colnot, Marin Alsop, Oliver Knussen, James Baker and Brad Lubman. When hearing of the award, Kaziboni said, “I am entirely blown away and humbled by this unexpected news! What an incredible honor. I am at a loss for words.”

Marcos Balter, Fritz Reiner Professor of Musical Composition at Columbia University said, "Maestro Kaziboni's contributions to not only the dissemination but also the artistic broadening of contemporary American concert music are exemplary. At the recent announcement of his new role as Klangforum Wien’s Conductor in Residence, he offered a quote by his grandmother: 'Great journeys don’t happen in shallow waters. Only in the depths.' His superior artistry, erudition, and technical prowess as a conductor, his advocacy of worthy yet underrepresented voices, and his unwavering commitment to artistic excellence and creative boldness continue to elevate the entire field in profound and transformative ways."

Augusta Read Thomas, Professor of Composition at the University of Chicago and founder of the University’s Center for Contemporary Composition added ““Vimbayi Kaziboni is a luminous, nuanced, expressive conductor. Unique is his embodied and intelligent wisdom related to musical flow, form, tempo, phrasing, pitch, harmony, rhythm, articulation, dynamic-sculpting, timbre, style, and phrasing, all of which are allied to his empathetic, vivid, and inspired ensemble leading, and further allied to his imagination for sonic possibilities. Vimbayi’s world-class skill set renders spectacular, ever-compelling performance experiences for everyone.”  

A prolific, multi-faceted artist widely celebrated as “a conductor who clearly knows his way around an avant-garde score” (The Times - London), critics have hailed Kaziboni among the foremost interpreters of modern classical music of his generation. He has led premieres of hundreds of new works across the globe and has worked with many of today’s leading composers that include Helmut Lachenmann, Georg Friedrich Haas, Steve Reich, George Benjamin, Augusta Read Thomas, George Lewis, Heiner Goebbels, Rebecca Saunders, Felipe Lara, Morten Lauridsen, Liza Lim, Dai Fujikura, Matthias Pintscher, Olga Neuwirth, Jacob TV, among many others. Moreover, he has had a long association with leading contemporary music groups, Ensemble Modern (Frankfurt) and Ensemble Intercontemporain (Paris) where he served as assistant conductor at the beginning of his career and now prolifically collaborates with as a guest conductor and curator.

Kaziboni is currently artistic advisor of the Boston Lyric Opera, music director of the Composers Conference, artist-in-residence with the International Contemporary Ensemble, and a professor of orchestral studies and contemporary music at Boston Conservatory at Berklee where he was 2019 Teacher of the Year. 

A former Fulbright fellow, Kaziboni holds degrees from the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles and the University of Music and Performing Arts Frankfurt (HfMDK) in Germany.