Mr. Reiss was one of the founding members in 1977 of the Folger Consort, which specializes in early music. In 1979 he founded Hesperus with the woman he later married, Tina Chancey. Hesperus performs a wide range of music from baroque to gospel.
Reiss also championed instruments such as the hammered dulcimer, the Irish pennywhistle, and Arabic hand drums. His musical tastes ranged from Renaissance concertos to Appalachian blues, and his recordings feature repertoire from medieval to Celtic.
Mr. Reiss was born in Coopersburg, Pennsylvania. His first instrument was the clarinet, and he began playing the recorder in high school. He was mostly self-taught. He later studied at Antioch College in Ohio, the New England Conservatory of Music and the University of Maryland.