Guitar player, composer and vocalist Chris Ruebens explores the paths between classical music, jazz and world music, developing his own unique and adventurous sound. Coming from Belgium he chose Vilnius, Lithuania as his new home. With the Baltic Guitar Quartet and the Chris Ruebens Ensemble he performed all over Europe and Asia. His compositions are performed, arranged and recorded by international guitarists and have won international competitions.
Chris (born September 19th, 1975, Eeklo, Belgium) started to play guitar at the age of 9 under the guidance of Peter Gykiere and Wim Van Holderbeke at the music school in Eeklo, Belgium. In 1999 he graduated at the Lemmensinstitute, tutored by Peter Pieters. Two years later he received a master’s degree chambermusic and a specialisation diploma (contemporary and postmodern music) with the highest distinction, under the guidance of Godelieve Monden.
Together with like-minded students of the Lemmensinstitute he founded the Koa Guitar Quartet in 2001. They released the album „KOA“ with postmodern chambermusic in 2005. With two Belgian jazz musicians he formed the trio Luz de luna. On the album „Moods“, released in 2010, they have collected a fine selection of their own compositions, presenting a well-balanced mix of world music, classical music and jazz. Meanwhile, he played and sang in all kinds of blues, rock, pop and disco bands and participated in music theatre productions. He also learned to play the flugelhorn and baritone horn, two instruments he played for many years in the brassband of his hometown.
In 2008 Chris moved to Vilnius to join the Baltic Guitar Quartet. Shortly after his arrival they recorded the album „Dancing with guitar“ (2008) and later „Tradicion nuevo“ (2014). They performed all over Europe, Russia and China, at prestigious concert halls such as the Berlin Philharmonic, The Southbank Centre (London) and the Forbidden City Concert Hall (Beijing). The quartet is considered the leading guitar ensemble of the Baltic States and hailed for their sensitive, subtle, colorful, yet virtuoso style of playing and original repertoire.
In 2012, in search for a new challenge he gathered musicians from the Lithuanian jazz, pop and world music scene to form the Chris Ruebens Ensemble. Chris’ compositions for this ensemble are imbibed with different Brazilian, Oriental, classical, blues and jazz music elements. Mingling together, they create fertile ground for improvisation and unexpected sounds. The result can be heard on the album „The yellow duck“ (2013), which was awarded a first prize at the 13th Independant Music Awards Vox Pop.
Chris presented himself as a charismatic singer and arranger with programmes like „Café de Paris“ and „Life is a movie“. In the first, together with his band, he performs his own arrangements of the most beautiful French songs, including Jaques Brel, Georges Brassens, Edith Piaff, Adamo and Thomas Fersen. In the latter, the audience can experience an exciting trip down memory lane with famous and less known songs and themes from movies.
After a long period of focusing on ensemble playing Chris took a new challenge by preparing a solo program that will consist only of personal compositions and a few arrangements by his hand. The programme “Muy bien, Adios!” will be premiered in July 2018 at the Christopher festival in Vilnius, with which Chris has developed a close partnership over the years. This program is meant to please and surprise both classical and jazz lovers.
Along his personal projects, Chris also had the pleasure to work with other artists like Renata Marcinkutė-Lesieur, Vladimir Tarasov, Carl Verheyen Band, Saulius Petreikis & World Orchestra, Martynas Levickis & “Mikroorkéstra”, Vykintas Baltakas, Het Collectief and Lithuanian Ensemble Network, among others.
Chris enjoys teaching the guitar and passing on his passion for the guitar and music to his students, having more than 20 years of experience of working with children and students.
As a composer Chris has published pedagogical pieces and works for solo guitar and guitar quartet. With his piece „Fantasy No. 1“ (2014) for classical guitar Chris won a first prize at the 3rd Acerra Guitar Composition Competition in Italy. The competition‘s artistic director noted that „the composition is sliding listening; a relief piece that can safely enrich a guitar recital with its breath of freshness and novelty“. In 2016 his concerto in four parts for four guitars and chamber orchestra „Stories of a common man“ and his arrangement of his flamenco music inspired “Gitana linda” for guitar and chamber orchestra were premiered during the Baltic Guitar festival and the Marijampole Music Park festival in Lithuania.