The Dutch mezzo soprano Cora Burggraaf graduated with distiction at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague. She has been the recipient of many prizes including the 2009/2010 ECHO Rising Star Award. In opera, Burggraaf has appeared at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Salzburger Festspiele, the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, the Royal Opera House in London (for which she was awarded ‘Most Promising Newcomer of the Year’ by The Observer), San Francisco Opera, Welsh National Opera, The Netherlands Opera, Garsington Opera, Opéra de Bordeaux and at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, BBC Proms and the Gergiev Festival. Cora Burggraaf is a noted recitalist and appeared in major concert halls.
Five passionate wind players.
Virtuoso musicians and brilliant arrangers. The creators of a completely new genre: the reed quintet. They are a source of inspiration to a fresh generation reed players that follows in their footsteps. A classical ensemble with a pop mentality: meet Calefax.
“Calefax – five extremely gifted Dutch gents who almost made the reed quintet seem the best musical format on the planet.”
– The Times –
The repertoire of Calefax spans many centuries of music. They breathe new life into classical chamber music by arranging it themselves to fit their own unique reed quintet line up: oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bass clarinet and bassoon. Next to that, approximately two hundred original works have by now been written especially for Calefax by composers from all over the world. During their many travels and collaborations, they have drawn influences from world music, jazz and improvisation.
The group publishes sheet music of their own arrangements for reed quintet under the name Calefax Edition, so that they play a pioneering role and put this new genre on the map. All over the world new reed quintets are springing up, following Calefax’ example; from Argentine to New-Zealand and from the United States to Europe. By offering master classes and workshops at conservatories and universities, Calefax passes its specific methods and musical experience on to the next generations.
In this way, the group functions as an inspiring laboratory for musicians and composers alike. It does so, for example, during their annual PAN festival; a musical feast where the musicians of Calefax act both as hosts and performers. The festival ensures a motley selection of music adventures, unexpected excursions into other art forms and a composition competition.
Calefax also inspires fellow musicians and artists from other disciplines. In collaboration projects, Calefax is always in search of unexpected repertoire or innovative presentation forms. They worked together with musicians like Jean-Yves Thibeaudet, Ivo Janssen and Michiel Braam, mezzo sopranos Cora Burggraaf and Christianne Stotijn, alto Helena Rasker and soprano Lenneke Ruiten, jazz singers Denise Jannah and Astrid Seriese, trombonist Christian Lindberg, Tony Overwater Trio, Cappella Amsterdam, Danelkwartet, Zapp String Quartet, trumpetists Eric Vloeimans and Marco Blaauw, percussionist Arnold Marinissen, Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, Lebanese violinist Claude Chalhoub, choreographer Sanne van der Put and animator Wouter van Reek.
Calefax can moreover be heard in the soundtrack of the movie De nieuwe wildernis [The New Wilderness], which will have its premiere on 26 September 2013.
Calefax has to date released 17 CDs, under the renowned German record label MDG and under their own label RIOJA Records. All of these CDs have been received by the international press with great enthusiasm. Their most recent CD, the long expected CD/DVD of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations, has been awarded with five stars in Dutch newspapers de Volkskrant and de Telegraaf.
“The way in which Calefax’ five reed players give music a new look, without a trace of friction, leaves one speechless every time…”
– de Volkskrant,Frits van der Waa –
“Unbelievable […] Almost everything Calefax touches, turns into gold.”
– De Telegraaf, Thiemo Wind -
Early 2014, a new Calefax CD will be released on Challenge Records. Jazz trumpeter Eric Vloeimans is tempted into the field of Calefax, and Vloeimans for his part takes the ensemble into the world of jazz and improvisation. Under the title On the Spot this project has already appeared in concert halls, and more concerts will follow.
Calefax won many important Dutch music awards, including the Philip Morris Kunstprijs in 1997, the Kersjes van de Groenekan Prijs in 2001 and the VSCD Classical Music Prize in 2005. In 2012, Calefax was also awarded the German Junge Ohren Preis for the family music showThe Music Factory, in co-production with Oorkaan.
Calefax is regularly on tour, both home and abroad. International tours have included Russia, China, India, Turkey, Japan, South Africa and the United States, performing on such prestigious stages as the Wigmore Hall, Het Concertgebouw and New York’s Frick Collection. In January 2013, Calefax had the honour of accompanying Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands on her state visit to Brunei and Singapore.