Cellist and composer Ernst Reijseger (1954) plays the cello from the age of seven and began as a performing cellist and improviser in 1969. From that time on he developed his own musical vocabulary. In 1974 his teacher Anner Bijlsma advised him to cease his music education at the Amsterdam Conservatory and pursue his own way.
Many of Reijseger’s collaborations cannot be classified into genres. He writes for and improvises with musicians and ensembles of different musical disciplines and nationalities. He gives solo recitals, performing his own music.
For solo concerts Reijseger uses a 4-string and a 5-string cello.
In 2010 he received an Edison ‘Hedendaags Klassiek’ (Contemporary Classical) for his second solo album ‘Tell Me Everything’ (Winter&Winter).
Reijseger coöperated with saxophonist Sean Bergin, pianist Burton Greene, drummer Martin van Duynhoven, guitarist Derek Bailey, percussionist Alan Purves and guitarist Franky Douglas, bass player Lesley Joseph, tabla player Trilok Gurtu and cellist Yo Yo Ma, pianist Franco d' Andrea, clarinetist Louis Sclavis, pianist Simon Nabatov, singer Mola Sylla and percussionist Serigne Gueye, bass player Mats Eilertsen, drummer Thomas Strønen, multi-instrumentalist Stian Carstensen and drummer Jarle Vespestad, reed player Fredrik Ljungkvist, singer Maria Pia de Vito, pianist Uri Caine, pianists Harmen Fraanje and Wolfert Brederoode, accordion player Luciano Biondini, tuba player Michel Godard, cellist Giovanni Sollima.
He was part of the Theo Loevendie Consort, Guus Janssen Septet, Arcado String Trio, Trio Clusone with Michael Moore and Han Bennink, Misha Mengelberg’s Instant Composers Pool, Gerry Hemingway Quintet, Amsterdam String Trio, trio with pianist Georg Graewe and percussionist Gerry Hemingway, trio with trumpet player Eric Vloeimans and guitarist Anton Goudsmit, duo with pianist Harmen Fraanje and trio with Harmen Fraanje and singer Mola Sylla.
In 1985 Reijseger was awarded with the Boy Edgar prize (Dutch prize for jazz and improvised music).
In 1995 he received the Bird Award from the North Sea Jazz Festival.
Reijseger collaborates with the Sardinian vocal group Tenore e Concordu de Orosei. With them and Senegalese singer Mola Sylla he performs a concert version of the music for the films by Werner Herzog. The title of this performance and the cd is ‘Requiem for a Dying Planet’.
For the Amsterdamse Cello Biënnale 2010 Reijseger worked with 140 young cellists, who eventually assembled in one orchestra, the Mega Kinder Cello Orkest.
On the island ‘La Réunion’ Reijseger met the group Groove Lélé. This accidental encounter has led to a close friendship and a musical collaboration. They recorded the album ‘Zembrocal Musical’ (Winter&Winter).
The cd ‘Zembrocal Musical’ received the French prize ‘Trophée des Arts Afro Carabiéen’ for 'Best album 2010’. Groove Lélé & Reijseger were also nominated for 'Best Group 2010’.
Projects in which Ernst Reijseger participated are for example ‘Tango y Posttango’ by WDR Big Band Köln, with music of the pianist-composer-conductor Gerardo Gandini and bandoneon player Nestor Marconi and the projects of Barana & Co, existing of Dutch and Turkish musicians plus f.e. singer Ceylan Ertem and drummer-percussionist from Iran, Afra Mussawissade.
Reijseger wrote music for and played solo with the Metropool Orkest in a project about the film music of Ennio Morricone, in partnership with composer/arranger Martin Fondse.
In Porto (Portugal, 2008) Reijseger worked closely together for three months with dancer Antonio Tavares and filmmaker Tiago Periera on the project ‘Aniki in da House’. For the occasion of the 100th birthday of cineaste Manoel de Oliveira they made a dance-music-video-performance with children from similar areas in which the film ‘Aniki Bobo’ took place around 1942. Reijseger led a group of 90 young cellists.
Reijseger performed with poets Ramsey Nasr and Ester Naomi Perquin, writer Joke van Leeuwen, inventor Theo Botschuiver, dancers Andrea Boll and Thomas Noon, painter/sculptor Gerti Bierenbroodspot and photographer Krijn van Noordwijk.
Reijseger played in radio plays and played music to the first Dutch broadcastings of Sesame Street.
With Theatergroep Flint (with Felix Strategier and Sean Bergin) Reijseger made the music theater performance 'Korreltjie Korreltjie Sand' (2007) based on the poetry of the South-African poet Ingrid Jonker. Also with Theatergroep Flint (with Felix Strategier and Wolfert Brederoode) he performed ‘Klaarlichte Nacht’ (2011), music theatre based on the poetry of the Flemish poet Herman de Coninck.
Recently Reijseger provided music for modern dance performance ‘Wa(h)r es gelogen’ by dance group Bollwerk (2011).
In 2008 a ‘Gouden Loeki’ (Dutch prize for the best commercial) was assigned to ‘Thuiszorg’, idealistic advertising for elderly care, for which the maker Krijn van Noordwijk used Reijseger’s music.
Reijseger’s written compositions are performed by cellist Larissa Groeneveld and pianist Frank van de Laar, with Reijseger as a free agent (cd ‘Do You Still’, Winter&Winter), by Quartetto Italiano de Viola da Gamba (cd ‘Full of Color’, Winter&Winter), the Ragazza string quartet and singer Christina Zavalloni.
Reijseger composed also for large ensembles: two pieces for solo cello and string orchestra (6 concerts with Autunno Ensemble), a concert for solo cello and symphony orchestra (Sweelinck Orchestra), two pieces for cello solo plus string- and wind ensemble (Ensemble Modern at the Kronberg Cello Festival 2009), a full length program ‘Huil, Klaag, Bid en Bemin’ (2011) performed eight times in the Dutch concert halls by the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble together with the Corsican choir A Filetta.
He composed a cello concert in tree parts performed by Reijseger and the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble at the Amsterdamse Cello Biënnale 2010, several pieces for eight singers, organ and 5-string cello (Nederlands Kamerkoor, Fraanje, Reijseger) and finally a set of pieces for an ensemble of cello quartet plus solo cello, accordion, piano, percussion, voice (with soloïsts Biondini, Fraanje, Purves, Bhattacharya, Sylla).
Ernst Reijseger creates music for film and documentary. Since 2004 he wrote music to four films and a 3D-documentary by cineaste Werner Herzog: 'The White Diamond', 'The Wild Blue Yonder', 'Rescue Dawn', ‘My Son My Son What Have Ye Done’ and ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams’, soundtracks of which were published by Winter&Winter.
Reijseger made music for the Ajax film ‘Daar Hoorden Zij Engelen Zingen’ and for two films by Martijn Maria Smits: ‘Anvers’ en ‘C’est déjà l’Été’. Also filmmakers Kees Hin, Maaik Krijgsman and Pieter Verhoef used Reijseger’s music.
For the music in ‘C’est déjà l’Été’ Reijseger was awarded a Gouden Kalf (Dutch film prize) for ‘Best Film Music 2010’.
Reijseger plays for children on a regular basis, both in schools as in theaters.
Reijseger gives guest lectures at cello festivals and conservatories worldwide.
Reijseger’s discography counts over 150 titles. Since 1996 his music is published for the most part by the label Winter&Winter, www.winterandwinter.com
Reijseger plays on a 4-string cello build by Jaap Bolink and a 5-string cello (la Baleine) build by Jaap Bolink & Annelies Steinhauer. The 5-string cello was made available to him by the Nationaal Muziekinstrumenten Fonds. Reijseger plays an electric 5-string cello of NS design by Ned Steinberger. He is sponsored by Thomastik Infeld for his strings.
Quote: Jeff Tamarkin on Ernst Reijseger (April 2010, Carnegie Hall)
‘Ernst Reijseger has studied the cello rulebook, absorbed it thoroughly, and thrown it out the window. Never restricted by others’ concepts of genre or application, the Dutch master has consistently recast the instrument as his own. Working within virtually any format he fancies, Reijseger has always challenged himself to reach out toward the unanticipated, to move the music around corners in order to reveal unforeseen vistas. His technique is superb, his improvisational skills masterful, and his compositional virtuosity unquestionable, but Reijseger’s music also projects warmth, depth, and splendor—even at its most extreme. Whether pushing the limits of jazz, world music, or modern classical—working solo or with an ensemble—Reijseger never settles for the obvious. With each piece he writes, and in each project he undertakes, Reijseger sets out to explore the myriad tones, colors, and moods available to him, envelops them, then steps around them to investigate possible alternatives. His music is not always easy, but it’s always satisfying. About the only thing one can expect from Ernst Reijseger is the unexpected.’
Jeff Tamarkin is a veteran freelance music journalist.
More info: www.winterandwinter.com/index.php?id=187
The discography of Ernst Reijseger counts over 150 titels. A selection:
2011 – Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Official Soundtrack of the Werner Herzog 3D documentary ‘Cave of Forgotten Dreams’
Ernst Reijseger - cello, Harmen Fraanje - piano/ church organ/ wurlitzer organ, Sean Bergin - pennywhistle, Dutch Chamber Choir - voices
2010 - My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done
Sounds from the Motion Picture
David Lynch presents A Werner Herzog film
Ernst Reijseger Ensemble
Ernst Reijseger [violoncello], Julie Läderach [violoncello], Djoeke Reijseger [violoncello, voice on track 6], Tom van Lent [violoncello], Bonno Lange [violoncello], Luciano Biondini [accordion], Harmen Fraanje [piano], Alan "Gunga" Purves [percussion], Mola Sylla [voice], Sandip Bhattacharya [voice, tabla]
2010 - Groove LéLé & Ernst Reijseger Zembrocal Musical
Groove Lélé: Willy Philéas [lead vocals, odou], Urbain Philéas [lead vocals, triangle, choir], Fabrice Lambert [kayamb, lead vocals, choir], Jules Benard [rouler, choir], David Doris [congas, choir], Luciano Alcimedon [sati, choir], Béatrice Philéas [choir]
Marie-Claude Lambert [lead vocals, choir], Judicaël Philéas [choir]
Ernst Reijseger [cello, NS 5-string cello]
Alan "Gunga" Purves [bones, jawbone, cup-coil, shakers]
Mola Sylla [voice]
2008 - Tell Me Everything
2007 - Do You Still
2006 - Requiem for a Dying Planet
2006 - Vittorio Ghielmi Full of Colour
2005 - Graewe&Reijseger&Hemingway Continuum
2005 - Mats Eilertsen Flux
2004 - Mats Eilertsen Turanga
2004 - Audiofilm – Der Kastanienball
2003 - Ernst Reijseger JANNA
2003 - Stian Carstensen Backwards into the Backwoods
2003 - Maria Pia de Vito Tumulti
2002 - Ernst Reijseger & Franco d'Andrea I love you so much it hurts
1982/reissued 2002 - Ernst Reijseger & Alan ‘Gunga’ Purves Cellotape – Scotchtape Alan Purves - dr/perc, Ernst Reijseger – cello
2001 - Kakyoku
2001 - Ernst Reijseger & Alan "Gunga" Purves TA
1979/2001 - Sean Bergin & Ernst Reijseger Mistakes
2000 - Gräwe Reijseger Hemingway Counterfactuals
2000 - Amsterdam String Trio Winter
1999 - Ernst Reijseger & Alan ‘Gunga’ Purves & Tenore e Cuncordu de Orosei "Colla Voche"
1999 - Moondive III (Double cd)
1997 - Ernst Reijseger Colla Parte