Documentary Short Film Trad/World/Ethnic

Encounter at the Cello Biënnale

A Film by Myles O’Reilly featuring Ernst Reijseger and music of Trio Reijseger Fraanje Sylla.

In 2009 I first watched the film by Werner Herzog ‘Wild Blue Yonder’ and for the first time heard a film score composed by cellist Ernst Reijseger. Ernst is the most Dutch of cellists. He embodies the range of his country’s forward musical thinking, which means a forward approach to old music as well as new.

This kind of building bridges over musical canals is one of the things that makes his home town Amsterdam so very interesting. And that is exactly what Reijseger does in the music he has also soundtracked filmmaker Werner Herzog’s films, Wild Blue Yonder (2006), White Diamond (2006), My Son My Son What Have Ye Done (2010), Cave Of Forgotten Dreams (2011) and Ode to the Dawn of Man (2011)

Reijseger began in the early music movement, for which Holland has been a longtime capital, playing a period-instrument Baroque cello. From there he leaped, in a way that the Dutch do with a startling lack of self-consciousness, into avant-garde music. From there to jazz, for which he is now best known.

Reijseger no longer discharges genres; he simply renders them irrelevant.

On his gripping new CD for the stylish Winter & Winter label, he joins Dutch jazz and classical pianist Harmen Fraanje and the extraordinary Senegalese vocalist and instrumentalist Mola Sylla.

When bowed, Reijseger’s cello sounds like Handel’s cello. Plucked one way it conveys Mingus’ bass. Plucked another way, it becomes sibling to Sylla’s mbira. This combo cooks not from the heat of cultures colliding but because they have a big kitchen for three chefs with many musical hats. There is even a little place, on this audacious opening among these open-minded players, for a little dip into Puccini, played with an unforced expressive honesty.

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For more information on the Trio Reijseger Fraanje Sylla visit

15 comments on “Encounter at the Cello Biënnale

  1. Your blog, this post, your style is nothing short of brilliance. There is always one movie shut out of the award of season, and this is the one for blogs.

  2. Pingback: Reijseger Fraanje Sylla :: Encounters On Tour « Arbutus Yarns

  3. I’m Ernst’s Italian brother since 1984.
    This movie is amazing. I love it!

  4. Nyali Muir

    Hi Myles, congrats on creating and expressing such a beautiful piece of art yourself. You’ve captured so much detail here, told intimate and revealing stories, through the portal of your work, given the viewer a delicious experience of Ernst (and his vast talents), Mola, Fraanje, their collaborators and venues.
    As a dear friend who’s passionate about Ernst’s inspiring music, I love how you’ve shown him, all of their contributions and how I feel having dissappeared into your captivating journey. Brings back lots of fond memories – so thanks.
    Would love to encourage you to keep weaving your magic and promoting Ernst and fellow musicians gifts.
    Kindly Nyali

    • I could not have wished for a better reaction thank you Nyali. There are some more exciting prospects to come with Ersnt, the Universe willing, I will follow him with my lens as much as time will allow. He is a musician for musicians, his music ethos is a truly liberating pratice of human expression at it’s most creative, sincere, honest and present. It can apply to all artists, to all people even and to the betterment of life itself!! I look forward to continue telling his story and to try and communicate the magnitude of what it is I see, hear and feel from the man, his cello and his musical collaborations. For me his story is to creativity what a dictionary is to language.

  5. Garry Mc Kee

    Any chance of the name of the final piece performed?

  6. Thankyou, yet again, for such visual beauty. A delight. And a further lesson in other Musicians out there. Your work embellishes. Thankyou for sharing it.

  7. Another good film about a musician I’d not heard of but want to find out more. Off to the nearest record shop tomorrow……. well, not so near anymore, not within walking distance anyway..and I live in London.
    Who are the singers? Thanks Myles. x

    • Thanks Angela. The wonderful singer is Mola Sylla. You will find him singing alongside Ersnt on Cello on the soundtrack album titled Requiem For A Dying Planet at Ernst has had many many great collaborations in past album releases, very recently with an angelic choir for the soundtrack titled ‘Cave OF Forgotten Dreams’. Enjoy!

  8. Very nice! His album Colla Parte is one of my enduring favorites and it’s always heartening to see & hear him live. But.. you still need to help him put on a show (or do field recordings?) in Sligo, no?

  9. lovely stuff mate. Whens he coming to Ireland? Get that manager of yours to sort it out : )

  10. What beautiful, gorgeous work. All humankind is here. I feel like I just jumped into a well of other worlds.

  11. Stunning work Myles. Well done.

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