Biography

From early age on, I was actively engaged in choral singing. As a boy I sang in the Schola Cantorum in Ghent and participated in many concerts including Britten’s’ “War Requiem” in Ieper in 1968,Honeggers’ “Le Roi David” and the yearly performance of Bach’s “St Matthews’ passion”…to name only a few. These very early musical encounters made an everlasting impression.

Later I was a member of the mixed choir “Rundadinella” (directed by Florian Heyerick). In the meantime, next to my school career, I played the alto recorder, piano and alto saxophone, and took lessons in harmony, music theory and -history at the music school Gentbrugge, my home town. In parallel, my interest focused on science: I studied chemistry at the University of Ghent and got my PhD in science in December 1982. Although I nearly finished studies in music theory and harmony at the Ghent Conservatory (with Norbert Goddaer), I was not able to finish them as in1984 I started my professional career in the private sector. I held several international marketing and technical commercial positions.

My earliest composition is a cycle of five studies for alto recorder (1978). At that time I was studying alto recorder and wanted to play modern music. As an alternative to baroque scores, my teacher gave me scores by Hans Martin Linde. This was an eye-opener and promptly I started writing a similar style of music for alto recorder. This being a point of reference, I considered this my opus number 0!!

It was from 1986 that my composing activities started on a more regular basis. Till 1990, this mainly consisted of songs with piano accompaniment. The first songs for solo voice and piano (Rimbauds’ “Ophélie”, 1986 and four songs for high voice and piano on Rilke texts, 1986-1988) and three a cappella choral songs (different French poems, 1988) are all written in a clear postromantic musical setting, based on tonal harmonies. Also the piano sonata “Le P'tit cheval de Neptune” (1990) used the same musical language.An important number of these compositions are dedicated to professional musicians and friends.

From 1990 onwards, in order to broaden my musical horizon and as a result of discussions on compositional techniques with composers Raoul De Smet and Lucien Posman, I started experimenting with dodecaphonic related techniques. This resulted in a series of sonatas for various solo instruments and piano (between 1991 and 1994). In 1995, my compositional techniques were fine-tuned as I created work with a longer musical span. A first string quartet was born and performed in 1998! This setting and the result of the performance encouraged me to do more of the same and at present a total of 4 string quartets are in my opus list, (written in 1995, 2000, 2002 and 2006).

In 1999, commissioned by the “Orpheus competition for contemporary music”, the Millennium Sonata for two pianos was written. Other sonatas were composed for flute and piano (the “Gran Partita”, 1997) for oboe and piano (1996) and “conversations” for string quartet, flute and oboe.

Until today,I composed two song cycles: "Ten English love songs for tenor or soprano and piano" (1995) based on various English poems and dedicated to my dearest wife Monica and "Le Canari et la Cerise" (2000), based on the poetry by Paul Neuyhuys. Other vocal compositions follow for mixed choir (texts of Rimbaud in 2006 and Rilke in 2012), and a commission by Arte Musicale of Ghent for the youth choir “Furiakanti” on the famous text of Paul van Ostaijen; “Huldegedicht aan Singer” (2008). My two daughters, Elisa and Irene, both gifted with musical talent, sing in that choir since 2006.

In addition to works for small ensembles also large pieces for string orchestra were written: two notable pieces are the “Nebling Suite” for oboe and string orchestra (1998) and “9h02min07sec”, (2002) for string orchestra, both of which are on the CD released in 2014. The latter is an elegy for strings to commemorate the victims of the 9/11 attacks and is a very intense piece. This is of particular interest as I was in the US when this tragedy happened and all this made a very profound impression, expressed in the Elegy.

An important parameter of my style and form of music is the joy for the performer and accessibility to the listener, without compromising originality. As a result, my present compositional technique is best described as post modernistic, whereby the use of mild serialism and a diatonically “new simplicity” are the main ingredients (abandoning the strict dodecaphonic technique as used earlier but not returning to a romantic style). My musical style has some minimalistic flavors and reacts against the over-complexity and extravagancy that sometimes categorizes modern classical music. In addition my compositions are always written with a sense of the historical background of Western music.

A good illustration of this principle is a recent work: a “Stabat Mater”, written for large choir, instrument ensemble, percussion and two soloists and embedded in our Western religious tradition. The Stabat Mater will be created on April 16, 2016.

Several concerts devoted to my works have been regularly organized in the last 20 years. Comments by performers and audience are mostly enthusiastic. Excerpts of live recordings can be heard on this website so you can judge for yourself.

I am member of SABAM, the Belgian organisation for protection of copyrights, where most of my work is registered and COMAV, the Flemish composers society.

 

September 2015