MUSICIAN OF THE MONTH: JEFF REILLY


Been wondering who you’d see as our November Musician of the Month? Well, wonder no more: We couldn’t be happier to introduce you to clarinetist-composer-conductor Jeff Reilly.

Jeff Reilly leads a multifaceted life as a bass clarinetist, composer, conductor, a CBC radio music producer, and as a radio documentary maker. A recording artist for the prestigious German label ECM and the Montreal based label ATMA Classique, he has performed with choirs, orchestras and chamber groups, in music festivals, cathedrals and concert halls around the world – with his trio Sanctuary he has performed in Shanghai, Paris, London, New York, St Petersburg, Moscow, Riga, Sochi, Toronto, Montreal and more.  Most recently Jeff has released “To Dream of Silence”, a project that explores a series of powerful, recurring dreams that involved over 30 musicians and took three years to make.

Receiving a Juno nomination most recently in 2016 as a soloist on the ATMA Classique production of Peter-Anthony Togni’s RESPONSIO, as well as an ECMA award and 4 ECMA nominations, his approach to music blurs any simple distinctions between improvisation and composition, and does so with a musicality and sensitivity that reminds us that such distinctions are moot. Jeff has commissioned many large-scale works that feature bass clarinet, including Eriks Esenvalds, Christos Hatzis, David Mott, Peter-Anthony Togni, and Barry Guy.

Jeff Reilly lives in Halifax with his wife and twin daughters, and is the CBC senior producer of music production for the Atlantic Region.

“Jeff Reilly is an undisputed master of the Bass Clarinet who has gone to the end to explore its sonic universe.”  Halifax Chronicle Herald

“The virtuoso clarinetist Jeff Reilly extends his cadenzas across the history of sound, from monotony to modernism, in a performance that is dominant and often hypnotic” Norman Lebrecht

“Jeff Reilly’s music surges from a river so deep, so real and so strong it will carry you with it” Tom Allen, writer/storyteller and host of SHIFT on CBC Radio 2


1.What is your idea of perfect happiness? So hard to say – but if it were possible I would love to go back to the 12th century and spend a day praying, singing and chanting with a group of devoted medieval monks in beautiful surroundings.

2. Recording you would take to a desert island? That’s so hard to say because I’ve been involved with so many genres over the years. I love the distilled purity of Arvo Part, the deep vibe of Pink Floyd, or the amazing insight and genius of jazz musicians like Herbie Hancock or the sheer imaginative gift of Joni Mitchel, but in the end (assuming I’d be on this island for a very long time) I would want to be with something that would bear detailed scrutiny over many, many listens – so I am going to say Mahler 2 (lots to chew on there) with The Berlin Phil and Sir Simon Rattle.

3. What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? I am a practicing Buddhist.

4. Any place in the world you have not yet visited, but would like to? Definitely India, to listen to and immerse myself in their musical tradition.

5. What/where is your favourite thing to eat? Not terribly adventurous adventurous I guess but roast lamb with garlic, rosemary and roast potatoes!

6. Which composer (dead or alive) would you most like to share a meal with, and what would you like to eat with them? Igor Stravinksy. Vodka and whatever else he wanted to go with it. I love Russian composers, and I think his music is undoubtedly some of the most innovative, imaginative and visionary music of all time. He was also quite a character from what I have been told.

7. What are you most looking forward to musically in the 2017-2018 season? A performance with Symphony Nova Scotia with Andrea Ludwig singing Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer arranged by Schoenberg on November 11th and also a performance of my own works with the Upstream Ensemble on January 9th as part of the Open Waters Festival

8. Favourite mode of transportation and why? Definitely riding my bicycle. It’s cheap, keeps me in shape, I get to be outside, and it’s often the fastest way to get around the city!


Stay updated on Reilly’s work through his website and his Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Soundcloud accounts.

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