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BIO
Olmo Cornelis
Ghent, June 14th 1977


Olmo Cornelis is musicologist, ethnomusicologist, composer and performer. He studied musicology at Ghent University with Herman Sabbe and Marc Leman (IPEM), where he graduated in 2000 writing a dissertation on the work of the Belgian composer André Laporte, and executing an internship at the Rode Pomp in Ghent.

Next he combined his studies Composition with Lucien Posman at the University College Ghent (Conservatorium Gent) with his work as musicologist at Ghent University (Dep. Musicology, IPEM). He was a researcher within the DEKKMMA project (http://music.africamuseum.be), a project in cooperation with the RMCA (Royal Museum of Central Africa) located at Tervuren, that obtained, by digitalisation of the entire music archive, a durable conservation and enhanced accessibility of the sound archive.

The project for finalizing his studies composition, under supervision of Bart Maris, was a reflective and practical sound research of how the African music can be integrated within modern Western music, with inclusion of the typical characteristics of the African audio and respect for the cultural conceptual framework of both music cultures. It formed the basis for his doctoral research.
During the 'Masters' (kind of tour throughout Belgians conservatories) the SPECTRA ensemble played one of Olmo's pieces, Lager Gelegen (tribute to Lucien Goethals).

In 2008 Olmo started his PhD research at the University College Ghent on the annotation of ethnic music using computational techniques and reflecting on the opportunities for contemporary music using computational analysis of non-western music.
'Computational Ethnomusicology' provides alternative method of annotation ethnic musical parameters such as tempo, pitch, timbre, and can provide new insights in details and characteristics of ethnic music. This renewed perspective can serve as a new musical compositional idiom allowing ethnic influences on Western music in the greatest respect of both cultures.
During his PhD, Olmo explored to create a new palette of musical compositional idioms based on non-Western music. During this period he was able to work together with professional musicians for six years. For example Spectra ensemble, Nadar ensemble and HERMES ensemble played compositions in several cities in Flanders e.g. in Ghent, Brussels, Antwerp and Leuven.
Besides instrumental music, Olmo always showed interest in electronic music compositino. He made several compositions, each using a different compositional process using specific tools (see phd book). Sample-based or self-recorded sounds are processed into a new composition, and the sound is sometimes still adapted or distorted live. For example, working with IPEM, Olmo used the HOP and EME sensors in live performances. His work was carried out at the SIME2013 electronic festival in Lille (France). In the same period, composition and installation were realized to manipulate tape music and live vocals with sensors. These projects were shown at RESONANT in de Bijloke, and at ARTECH in Portugal.
In 2016, Olmo was able to work for a year as a postdoctoral researcher at Indiana University in USA with a BAEF (Belgian American Educational Foundation). He specialized in ethnomusicology, and attended several courses from the Ethnomusology Training program. He could also conduct research on the large sound archive, and wrote a publication about the scale organization of the oldest sound recordings of African music, from the period 1900-1930. The retrieved African scales are often used in electronic compositions and compositions for singing.

As composer Olmo can be positioned within in a mild sound, in which constantly a certain melancholy is hidden behind intended compositional principles and structures, balancing between systematics and aesthetics, in an environment of permanent longing for lyrical lines and the need of rigid organisation, as appears in works such as 'Mourning Calls' (double bass), 'Sore Sirens’ Song' (saxophone), 'Demeter' (flute, trumpet, saxophone, piano), 'Parfroise' (clarinet, saxophone, piano), 'Foca' (string trio), 'Karmozijn' (choir), 'Gehemelste' (brass band), 'Lager Gelegen' (chamber ensemble)…
During his doctoral study, he developed an interest in cultural influences, especially how African features, that were studied using computationally, could influence his own contemporary musical language. It results in an implicit and often intellectual kind of influence, that often is completely integrated in a subtle balance of ethnic and contemporary, as in works such as 'In Cinder', a sound sculpture made of African sound samples and chamber music, 'In between' is a series of short compositions that explores different African musical scales, 'Tales of Tides' is based on a Indian rhtyhmical figure, 'Soundscrape' is an electronic work with samples of a lamellophone and live vocals. Another component invests in the use of sensor technology in contemporary music as in 'Nelumbo', 'EME' and 'Con Golese'.

Olmo is also a music performer, playing double bass, piano and vocals. He took courses double bass at the Music Academy of Ghent and Gentbrugge with Rigo Messens and Frank Coppieters, and at the University College Ghent with Ludo Joly. He performed in several (music-)theater productions of Luc Van Autreve, a.o. De Ontginning, De BOM and Theater Krakeel. OC completed his aggregate at the Ghent University.
Olmo is committed to the ComAV, Componisten Archipel Vlaanderen, a group formed by Flemish composers and representing the interests of the Flemish composer. He has been a member for several years now, and since 2016 he has been a member of the ComAV board. Via the ComAV he worked on several promotional CDs for Flemish composers. The first production was performed by Spectra ensemble at several locations in Belgium, the second series was performed by Timur und seine Mannschaft.