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Ola Gjeilo Biography

Ola Gjeilo

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Born: 1978. Living in: New York City, Norway.

Ola Gjeilo is one of the most frequently performed composers in the choral world. An accomplished pianist, improvisations over his own published choral pieces have become a trademark of his collaborations across the world. Although Norwegian by birth, it is perhaps Ola's adopted country of America that has influenced the composer's distinctive soundworld the most, evolving a style that is both contemporary and familiar; thick harmonies and rich textures recall film score - music that forms a major part of the composer's inspiration.

Ola grew up in a musically eclectic home listening to classical, jazz, pop and folk, a broad background he later incorporated into his classical composition studies at The Juilliard School, and the Royal College of Music, London, and currently as a New York City-based full-time composer. He is especially inspired by the improvisational art of film composer Thomas Newman, jazz legends Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny, glass artist Dale Chihuly and architect Frank Gehry. Ola's music is often described as cinematic and evocative, with a lush, harmonious sound.

Ola's albums include Ola Gjeilo on the Decca Classics label, a portrait of his choral and piano works featuring Tenebrae and Voces8. His debut recording as a composer and pianist, the lyrical crossover album Stone Rose, was followed by its sequel, Piano Improvisations. Phoenix Chorale's bestselling Northern Lights collection of Ola's choral music was named iTunes Best Classical Vocal Album of 2012. All four recordings are available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Spotify.

His choral music has also been recorded by several notable ensembles such as the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge, The Choir of Royal Holloway, the Flemish Radio Choir, and Voces8. In 2015, the Choir of King's College Cambridge performed Ola's Serenity (O Magnum Mysterium) at the annual BBC-televised Christmas Eve service.

Gjeilo (pronounced Yay-lo) has a special collaboration with the vocal ensemble Voces8, and he is currently their composer-in-residence. His Ubi Caritas and Second Eve are featured on Voces8's Decca Classics albums Eventide and Lux. Ola is also composer-in-residence with DCINY, starting with a Lincoln Center concert in June, 2017 featuring his works for choir, piano and string quartet.