Willem Breuker Kollektief
The Willem Breuker Kollektief was formed in 1974, and, now that its founder has passed away 36 years later, will remain active during the years 2011 and 2012, paying homage to Willem Breuker the composer. Six of the active members of the orchestra are part of the Kollektief since the seventies. The standard formation of ten musicians has remained the same for all these years, although some projects, for instance, have called for an additional eight percussionists or eight string players. The Kollektief, one of Europe's finest ensembles, is ready as ever to play the most diverse selection of musical styles in a highly astonishing manner.
They manage from their inception to do what no other band had done or dared do - combine jazz and "serious" music with various popular (and often denigrated) genres from marching band to circus music, from latin dance steps to music for film and theatre. The result is often humorous and bewildering. They are equally at home in jazz clubs and concert halls. Most of the music is written especially for the Kollektief by Willem Breuker (with occasional pieces by other band members) and often with the talents of individual band members in mind.
The Kollektief maintains an orchestral precision that, in the words of one critic, "would be the envy of most philharmonics", while at the same time its members are highly skilled and individual improvisers as well. Over the course of time, the Kollektief has maintained its busy schedule, performing an average of 85 concerts per year. Their music has been heard all over the world including many countries in Eastern and Western Europe, the USA, Canada, Mexico, Russia, and India.
The Kollektief has produced more than 25 CDs and has since 1986 regularly been featured in the top ranks of the "Downbeat Annual Critic's Poll". The Kollektief first visited China and Hong Kong in 1994, on its way to Australia. This was followed by 5 subsequent tours of China. In the spring of 1997, the Kollektief joined forces with the "Percussion Group the Hague" to perform a tribute to the American composer Edgar Varese. They gave premiere performances of Carl Davis's music for Harold Lloyd's film The Freshman in 1998. Willem Breuker wrote a special composition for the Kollektief and cellist Yo Yo Ma, which was aired on Dutch television. Meanwhile, their periodic collaborations with jazz singer Denise Jannah has been a welcome change over the years. In the autumn of 1998 and again in the spring of 1999, the Kollektief performed a series of theatrical concerts with Loes Luca singing selected works by Kurt Weill for Dutch state schools. And lets not forget their series of family concerts for parents and children they performed in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Germany. (Actually too many projects to fully list here).
In 2003, Willem Breuker composed "Jonah", a two-hour oratorio written for a choir of over 50 vocalists, the Kollektief, a string orchestra, and five vocalists. The oratorio toured the entire country and was also released as a DVD. In 2004 and 2005, the Kollektief returned to the USA, Canada, China, and Japan. In the meantime, Willem Breuker composed "Faust" for the silent film of the same name by F.W. Murnau (1927). The Kollektief performed "Faust" in a variety of festivals throughout Europe. The entire movie plus music (one hour and 46 minutes) has since come out on DVD. In 2007, the Kollektief did 35 performances of a new theatre show especially written for Loes Luca and the Kollektief by Willem Breuker about the life of the legendary American singer, Sophie Tucker. Later in 2007, "Faust" was performed by the Kollektief during its American tour. In 2008 the Kollektief played at the North Sea Jazz Festival (Rotterdam) and toured the USA and Canada again in the fall. 2009 saw amongst other events a theater tour in the Netherlands.