Multiple prize-winner Raaf Hekkema has an adventurous spirit. Whether he plays Paganini’s violin concerto with orchestra, explores microtones on the saxophone, unravels the inhumanly complex mathematical musical puzzles that Conlon Nancarrow wrote for the pianola – Hekkema doesn’t bat an eye. Performing mainly his own arrangements, he gives approximately 100 concerts per year the world over. Hekkema has appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras and has given many international masterclasses. The solo CD ‘Paganini Caprices for Saxophone’ (MDG, 2006) earned him the German Echo Klassik ‘Instrumentalist of the Year’ title. His compositions and arrangements are published by Schott Music, CalefaxEDITION and through his website. He has released three Bach albums with Challenge Classics: Bach Partitas (2014), Bach Suites (2018) and Bach Solo (2023). To this end, he has had lessons with early music specialists such as Vera Beths, Lucy van Dael, Roel Dieltiens and Ton Koopman. For his artistic merits Hekkema was admitted to the Society of the Arts of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2020.
Hekkema is co-founder of Calefax Reed Quintet (since 1985), for whom he has arranged and composed hundreds of works, many of which have been recorded. Calefax’s repertoire spans nine centuries, Western and non-Western, from improv to contemporary classical. Additionally, the quintet has initiated projects with distinguished artists from the theatre, dance, film, animation worlds as well as those with diverse musical backgrounds. Calefax has taken lessons from, or worked with, experts in the field of early music, including Paul Van Nevel, Bartold and Sigiswald Kuijken, Jan-Willem de Vriend and Frans Brüggen. The ensemble plays at prominent concert venues worldwide, from South America to Japan, appears regularly on international radio and television, and has issued more than 20 albums. Calefax has also been the recipient of various prizes and distinctions. Thanks to the decades-long co-operation with the members of Calefax, all of whom studied with prominent wind players from the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Hekkema’s playing has taken on a musical character unlike any other saxophonist’s. Raaf Hekkema teaches classical saxophone at the Royal Conservatoire The Hague.