Calefax Reed Quintet
• Founded 1985
The wind chamber group Calefax has a unique composition (or did until they were imitated): they are not a wind quintet, but a reed quintet consisting of Oliver Boekhoorn (oboe), Ivar Berix (clarinet), Raaf Hekkema (saxophones), Jelte Althuis (bass clarinet), and Alban Wesly (bassoon). For this ensemble they create unusual arrangements that draw on jazz and pop elements.
Calefax had its beginnings in 1985, when four students at the Amsterdam grammar school Bariaeus were performing an opera by Willem van Manen in a school orchestra. The youngsters cheekily asked van Manen to write a piece for them. To their surprise, he complied; adding a clarinet that was originally played by a teacher at the school. By 1987, the group had added Barix on clarinet and begun to perform publicly. They released their first album in 1992 on the Channel Classics label. As their work developed, they increasingly often began to arrange music for their unique ensemble, from the medieval era to the present day. These arrangements have often been published as well. With the addition of Althuis in 1994, the group reached its present form, and Calefax began to gain international renown. Calefax has toured not only Europe but also Asia, India, and the U.S. Their collaborators are a distinguished group including not only pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and trombonist Christian Lindberg, but also jazz singers Denise Jannah and Astrid Seriese, and choreographer Sanne van der Put. The group cultivates a direct, informal presentation with the members standing up on stage.
They signed with the German audiophile label MDG, releasing an album of works by Ravel and Debussy. They have recorded more than a dozen albums, mostly for MDG, for their own label RIOJA, and for Pentatone. For the latter imprint they released Dido & Aeneazz, a free wind adaptation of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, in 2019.
Calefax has won several awards: the Philip Morris Art Prize in 1997, the Kersjes van de Groenekan Prize in 2001, and the VSCD Classical Music Award in 2005.