A ‘factotum’ is somebody who does all kinds of things. Derived from the medieval magister factotum, master of everything or Jack-of-all-trades.

Since the Calefax Reed Quintet excels in a phenomenal array of different styles and genres, I wanted to write something that appeals to that versatility. With that in mind, Calefactotum became a tapestry (almost a rhapsody) of Breughel-Bosch-inspired tableaus, partly based on a brazen choice of references to my musical heritage. Some are downright quotations (such as from Varèse’s Octandre), others are freely adapted (such as Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Petrouchka) or a pastiche of other works and styles.

I have tried to tie it all together in an architectural landscape of my own as if they emerge naturally from the prevailing music. I hope this guarantees coherence and controls momentum, ultimately producing a spectacle of vibrant colours, patterns and gestures that pay tribute to the virtuosity of the ensemble and the individual players. Five sections are reserved for a solo to celebrate idiosyncratic properties of each instrument, gently accompanied by the rest of the ensemble. A fugato at the end seals their collective spirit.

Calefactotum was written at the request of the Calefax ensemble with financial assistance from the Fonds Podiumkunsten (Performing Arts Fund) and Vrienden van Calefax.