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Wed., Jan. 28
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Reed quintet from Amsterdam opens U.S. tour Sunday in Potsdam

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POTSDAM — An Amsterdam-based quintet launches its U.S. tour here on Sunday with a performance of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” as well as pieces by Maurice Ravel and Edvard Grieg.

The Times of London has called the reed quintet, Calefax, “five extremely gifted Dutch gents who almost made the reed quintet seem the best musical format on the planet.”

Sunday’s concert at 7:30 p.m. in the Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall is part of the Community Performance Series. An ensemble member is scheduled to give a free pre-concert lecture at 6:30.

The ensemble has won a number of prestigious prizes and their music can be heard frequently throughout Europe and in Russia, China, India, Turkey and Japan.

Calefax has released 16 albums on the German label MDG as well as on their own label, RIOJA Records. Its music ranges from classical to jazz.

The group will share information about its virtuosity during a series of masterclasses on Monday at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. Each instrumentalist will conduct independent masterclasses from 9 to 10 a.m., and the ensemble will come together to conduct a second hour session at 10 a.m.

“Goldberg Variations,” which Calefax will feature on Sunday, was originally written by Bach for harpsicord. According to NPR Music, “the piece begins with an initial melody, the Aria, followed by 30 short but brilliant variations built on eight notes Bach appears to have borrowed from Handel. Then Bach returns to that first, quiet and lovely melody.”

Earlier this year, Calefax released the CD “Goldberg Variations,” available on as a MP3 file. A related DVD was released in Europe.

Calefax consists of Oliver Boekhoorn, oboe; Ivar Berix, clarinet; Raaf Hekkema, saxophone; Jelte Althuis, bass clarinet; and Alban Wesly, bassoon.

The quintet’s name was given by Mr. Hekkema. While riding his bicycle to school and back on one of Amsterdam’s western islands, he often noticed the word “Calefax” inscribed over a dilapidated building. He remembered the name and suggested they use it when the quintet was formed in the 1980s.

The details
WHAT: Community Performance Series presents the reed quintet Calefax.
WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the Helen M. Hosmer Concert Hall at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music. An ensemble member is scheduled to give a 6:30 p.m. free pre-concert lecture at.
COST: Tickets range from $18 to $30, with additional discounts for students, senior citizens and SUNY Potsdam faculty and staff. Tickets can be purchased online at, by calling CPS at 267-2277 or by visiting the CPS box office in the lobby of the Sara M. Snell Music Theater on the SUNY Potsdam campus. Tickets also are available at Northern Music & Video, 29 Market St.
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