Jörgen van Rijen
"van Rijen and Aho turned the trombone into a fount of melodic grace and gambolling"
"Wim Van Hasselt and Jörgen van Rijen appear to find a golden thread to weave through remarkably diverse musical traditions"
"There can’t be many trombonists who could match van Rijen’s dazzling virtuosity"
Jörgen van Rijen is much in demand as a soloist with a special commitment to promoting his instrument, developing new repertoire for the trombone and bringing the existing repertoire to a broader audience. He is a specialist on both the modern and baroque trombone. He has performed as a soloist in most European countries, as well as the United States, Canada, Japan, China, Korea, Russia, Singapore and Australia and performed concertos with orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (of whom he is the Principal trombonist), the Czech Philharmonic, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Taiwan Philharmonic, Nagoya Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony, Antwerp Symphony under James MacMillan, Dallas Symphony under Gustavo Gimeno, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Jonathan Nott, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins.
In 2020 Jörgen premiered Bryce Dessner’s concerto for trombone and orchestra with the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn at the Koelner Philharmonie. The piece is a joint commission with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Orchester Philharmonique Royal de Liège and Orchester National d'Île-de-France. He will perform the piece again this season with the Philharmonie Zuidnederland at the November Music Festival.
In 2021 Jörgen premiered Tan Dun’s concerto “Three Muses in Video Game” with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, who jointly commissioned the piece with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg with whom he performs the piece this season.
Jörgen was awarded the Netherlands Music Prize in 2004, the highest distinction in the field of music by the Dutch Ministry of Culture. In 2006 he received the prestigious Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award, which is presented yearly to a selection of the most promising and talented young international soloists and ensembles. He has won other major prizes, including first prizes at the international trombone competitions of Toulon and Guebwiller.
In a review of his first CD, the music magazine 'Luister' wrote: 'Van Rijen is a real ambassador of his instrument, which is still not often used as a virtuoso brass instrument among composers. But there are not that many trombonists who reach the brilliant level of Van Rijen. In sound, dynamic, colour, musical understanding and expressiveness, Van Rijen is unequalled...'.
Many new pieces have been written for Jörgen, including a trombone concerto by Theo Verbey, and works by Nico Muhly and Tan Dun. In the spring of 2012, Jörgen premiered a trombone concerto by Kalevi Aho that was written for him as a commission from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, with concerts with the The Hague Philharmonic, the Oulu Sinfonia in Finland and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. For the last concert, The Times wrote: "... van Rijen and Aho turned the trombone into a fount of melodic grace and gambolling, cradled over four generous movements by an equally refined orchestra..." In April 2017 he performed the world premiere of a trombone concerto by James MacMillan, composed for him with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Ivan Fischer. He has since performed MacMillan’s concerto with orchestras in the USA, Finland, Japan, Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. In coming seasons, he will appear as a soloist with The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Philharmonie du Luxembourg, Orchestre National de France and Toronto Symphony amongst others.
Jörgen teaches at the Amsterdam Conservatory and has been appointed International Visiting Professor at the Royal Academy of Music, London. He is also an active chamber musician in ensembles such as the New Trombone Collective, RCO Brass and Brass United.
He plays exclusively on instruments built by Antoine Courtois, and has released 5 CDs on the label Channel Classics, including Fratres with members of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, which he recently performed at the Bach Festival in Dordrecht.
This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.
CD: Mirrored in Time
BIS (February 2023)
This is an intelligently planned, finely played album for trombone and string quartet, part recital of contemporary music, part hypothesis of what chamber music featuring trombone from the 19th and early 20th centuries could have sounded like.
Guy Rickards, Gramophone Magazine
It’s always a pleasure to hear an instrument in something of a different light and Van Rijen’s gleams.
Michael Beek, BBC Music Magazine
Tan Dun - "Three Muses in Video Game" (world premiere), Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Het Concertgebouw, 5 November 2021
…during the solo in the second movement, van Rijen’s staggering mastery becomes evident.
Rahul Gandolahage, NRC Handelsblad *****
His (Tan Dun’s) video game heroes, the “muses”, three ancient Chinese instruments, are masterfully summoned by solo trombonist Jörgen van Rijen. He is able to manipulate the sound of his instrument subtly but effectively, sounds like a bili (reed instrument) in one moment, and a xiqin (a two-stringed, bowed instrument) the next moment.”
Rick van Veldhuizen, De Volkskrant *****
Van Rijen delivered a top performance, playing his trombone in ways that everybody thought impossible, and proving them wrong. From rough, raspy trills to sensual glissandi, from cascades of full staccati that were delivered with the precision of a machine gun to beautifully lyrical, long cantabile lines. That’s what van Rijen does like none other – he sings on the trombone even in the very highest registers.
Peter van der Lint, Trouw****
Bryce Dessner Trombone Concerto
Wurttembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn (world premiere), Dallas Symphony Orchestra (Sep-Oct 2020)
I wonder how many trombonists could match van Rijen’s virtuosity, or his command of tones from matte-finish to high gloss.
Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News
Trombonist Van Rijen, who performed the work’s world premiere in September in Cologne, Germany, here presented the excruciatingly demanding solo part with energy, unfailing technical virtuosity, and insightful musicality.
Wayne Lee Gay, North Texas Performing Arts News
CD: Macmillan, Verbey, Berio, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
All the qualities of the trombone are highlighted: march-like, virtuosic and not to mention singing, Jörgen van Rijen, principal trombonist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, utilizes all chances and possibilities … Grand master Van Rijen once again shows us his formidable abilities with Ivan Fischer.
Gerard Scheltens, Luister
...all give Jörgen van Rijen the opportunity to show rich tone, outstanding technique, and thoughtful interpretations.
American Record Guide
One of the world's finest trombonists -
…his virtuoso technique need fear no comparison with the best in this field
Rijen's accounts of the well-known 18th-Century alto trombone concertos surpass anything I have heard, in both solo and orchestral parts. He is a world-class artist
American Record Guide
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