Composer Profile: Ola Gjeilo

by Jen Sper, Choral Music Specialist

Ola-Gjeilo-Picture-1“Sweeping,” “floating,” “cinematic” and “lush” are words we often use when listening to new choral works by composer Ola Gjeilo. His musical voice is as fresh and unique as it is comforting and familiar. Often considered in the same compositional vein as Eric Whitacre and Morten Lauridsen, I find Gjeilo’s work to be more conservative in his harmonic language, and his a cappella settings are especially captivating. His use of largely homophonic textures helps make the text easily comprehensible.

Most notable in our choral sphere is his setting of the classic Latin text Ubi Caritas, effective in it’s simplicity; the mixed, women’s and men’s settings have all appeared on adjudicated event lists and choral festivals since their release.

Born in Norway in 1978, Ola Gjeilo (pronounced Yay-lo) moved to the United States in 2001 to begin his composition studies at the Juilliard School in New York City. Ola’s concert works are performed all over the world, and his debut recording as a pianist-composer, the lyrical crossover album Stone Rose, was followed by its 2012 sequel, Piano Improvisations. Many of Ola’s choral works are featured on Phoenix Chorale’s bestselling Northern Lights album, which is devoted entirely to his music for choir. All three albums are available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc. A full-time concert music composer, Ola is also very interested in film, and his music often draws inspiration from movies and cinematic music. He currently lives in New York City with his wife Laura.

For more information about Ola Gjeilo and his music, please visit his website.

Stanton’s Recommends: Ubi Caritas, Ubi Caritas II: Through Infinite Ages, Sacred Heart (Ubi Caritas III), The Ground, Tundra

About the Author:
Jen has been with Stanton’s since 2006. A former middle school and high school choral director, and an active choral singer and accompanist throughout the Central Ohio area, she also enjoys eating good food, running (to counteract the good food!) and the Muppets.

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Categories: Composers, School Choral, Staff Picks

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