Colla Voche

Ernst Reijseger &
Tenore e Cuncordu de Orosei


Ernst Reijseger and the Sardinian voices Tenore e Cuncordu de Orosei met because of a cassette with Sardinian singing. Enrico Blumer, a friend of Clusone Jazz, brought it to the recording session of Reijseger’s solo album Colla Parte.


The first time Reijseger and the singers spontaneously played together was backstage at an event in Venice. A few months later, the Sardinians reached out to Reijseger and invited him to play and record. Reijseger hesitated. Being a big fan of their authentic way of singing, he was unsure if he had something to add. The men reassured him and made him a promise: “We will keep singing our tradition after you leave’’. Then they added: “Besides, we eat well here…”



Over the years, they became close friends. They do not need a lot of language to joke, laugh, rehearse, play concerts and have meals together. Most of all, they speak the language of music, of the heart, of spirit, of life. Reijseger became part of their Sardinian families and celebrations. On their turn, the singers came to Amsterdam and sang at Reijseger’s wedding.


Anniversaries, weddings, the annual feasts and processions: in Sardinia ceremonies are still an important part of life, as are shared meals. People bring their own home made wine and sit at tables, usually the men with the men, the women with the women and the children with the children. In Sardinia it’s impossible to be a vegetarian and it’s impossible to feel alone. After dinner there is singing. Food and drink, family and time are shared unquestionably, with a mix of pride and gratitude. They radiate: “…of course, this is the way we do things.”



In the 1960’s and 70’s Sardinian traditional singing became documented and recorded. The tradition was researched and transmitted – just in time – from the oldest generation to the next, thanks to the endeavours of a few men who acknowledged the value of the repertoire and customs. In the present time, the youngest generation joins weekly for rehearsals and dancing.

Traditionally, each community has its unique Tenore and/or Cuncordu, who sing their own specific songs and arrangements in groups of four men. Songs and arrangements do not leave town, except when local singers perform them elsewhere.
Actually, the five Tenore e Cuncordu de Orosei sing in two groups of four, depending on the song. Cuncordu sing the liturgy in church and during religious outdoor ceremonies.

Tenore sing the secular songs, in the world outside, during short parties, festive gatherings, storytelling and sheep herding. Then, there is traditional music that they call ‘popular’, in which all singers present join in, as in the pieces Nanneddu Meu and Su Bolu e s’Astore.

Typically with Tenore, there is a front men, a singing storyteller (su voche) who improvises and sometimes comments on recent events. Cuncordu have a storyteller as well – the cantor – who sings the liturgy. The open-throat technique of Sardinian singing comes out the strongest in the Tenore music. The sound bridges long distance.

The bass, middle and top voice sing in perfect triads. The three men hold each other by the shoulders whilst singing, in order to be as close as possible with their mouths and ears. The front singer stands outside of the circle of three and directs his voice outward. At times, the singers end a frase with a unison downwards bend.


In the case of the Tenore, the men occasionally dance together within their circle, alternating clockwise and counter clockwise. Armonica (mouth organ) and trumba (Jew’s harp), often used for dancing, broaden the Sardinian tradition even more.

The album Colla Voche contains one religious piece by the Cuncordu: Libera Me Domine (Free Me Lord). It took time for Reijseger to join the liturgy. The album and soundtrack Requiem For A Dying Planet provided the next occasion to record Cuncordu. Their live performances (Face of God or Cineconcerto) equally display Tenore and Cuncordu.
Reijseger uses interludes in order to create question and answer in the arrangements. Reijseger: “On this album, the most significant example of our collaboration is A Una Rosa, where the sum is more than its parts.”
For this album Reijseger invited the Scottish percussionist and penny whistle player Alan ‘Gunga’ Purves. Gunga came to Amsterdam in 1975 with The Friends Road Show. Since his arrival, Reijseger and Gunga have been playing as a duo. Gunga invents and designs his own instruments. Reijseger believed that Gunga’s musical attitude and input would be a good match and a great surprise for this recording session.
The album was recorded in Galtellì, close to Orosei, in a remote church called the Cattedrale di San Pietro. The church contains beautiful frescos.
Colla Voche combines two meanings: It refers to the Italian musical term ‘colla voce’ (to follow the voice) and to ‘su voche’, the Sardinian leading voice.