Calefax Biography

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Calefax Reed Quintet
Calefax Reed Quintet

IVAR BERIX, clarinet
RAAF HEKKEMA, saxophone
JELTE ALTHUIS, bass clarinet
ALBAN WESLY, bassoon

Calefax Reed Quintet, established twenty-five years ago, is now in great demand worldwide, not least because of their unique instrumentation. The five musicians arrange, recompose and interpret music from eight centuries to suit their unique constellation. From early music to classical and jazz to world premières, in the hands of Calefax it all sounds fresh and new. The Amsterdam-based ensemble has won a number of prestigious prizes, and can be heard frequently throughout Europe as well as in Russia, China, India, Turkey, Japan and the USA. The Times (UK) has called them “five extremely gifted Dutch gents who almost made the reed quintet seem the best musical format on the planet.”

The current Calefax season includes tours in the United States, Japan and South-Africa and several performances including London’s Wigmore Hall, Germany’s Wittener Tage für Neue Musik, Belgium’s Bach Academy Brugge, and Antwerp’s De Singel, among others. Past season highlights include Music & Image, a program in which the five Calefax musicians are accompanied on stage by movable projection screens for which accompanying video material has been specially developed; a collaboration with the New York based composer Nico Muhly and Dutch rising star soprano Lenneke Ruiten, with concerts in Netherland’s Concertgebouw, in Belgium, and in England’s Wigmore Hall; the ‘Scherpdenkers’ series with Rob Riemen, director of the highly respected Nexus Institut, at Concertgebouw and Muziekgebouw Frits Philips, Eindhoven; the Far East Revisited project with jazz trio Jungle Boldie at Amsterdam’s Muziekgebouw, and Leidse’s Jazz Week; and a concert in the Donderdagavondserie Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam, with world premières of works by Carola Bauckholt, Klas Torstensson and Yannis Kyriakides.

Calefax has released sixteen recordings for the renowned German label MDG, as well as for their own label, Rioja Records, each garnering rave reviews from the international press. Two recent recordings featured CalefaXL (Calefax Extra Large), for which Calefax was expanded to twelve reed players.
The Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant wrote “CalefaXL juggles with notes, and keeps these in the air in a grand manner.” And Lonneke Regter applauded, “as CalefaXL, the twelve reed players shone … with new compositions and inventive arrangements.”

Calefax Reed Quintet has enjoyed collaborations with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet, trombonist Christian Lindberg, mezzo-soprano Cora Burggraaf, Jungle Boldie (formerly the Tony Overwater Trio), trumpet player Marco Blaauw, percussionist Arnold Marinissen, Zapp String Quartet, clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, violinist Claude Chalhoub, jazz singers Denise Jannah and Astrid Seriese, and choreographer Sanne van der Put.

In 2004 Calefax started publishing (for online sale) its most successful arrangements in the Calefax Edition. As a result, several reed quintets have been formed all over the world. Through master classes and workshops the Calefax musicians pass on their specific ways of working and musical experiences to new generations. For musicians as well as composers, for audiences and press alike, Calefax continues to be an inspiring chamber music laboratory.