Basic Musical Education

At the age of eight, I started my music theory & saxophone (teacher: Frank Commeene) studies at the music school of my hometown Ypres, Belgium. As a boy soprano, I began singing in the grand “St. Martins Youth Choir” and sang solo with the choir numerous of times, among which a concert for more than 10.000 people broadcasted live on Belgian television. At the same time I developed my ensemble skills as a young saxophone player in the Royal Wind Orchestra “Ypriana”, which wan lots of international competitions. I also participated successfully at a lot of young national soloist concourses during my teenage years and crowned it all at the age of 18 by graduating from music school with the maximum score of 100% and winning the prestigious national competition “Axion Classics” on my alto saxophone.

Early Classical Compositions

Throughout my early teenage years, my interest in creating new music grew. At the age of fifteen, I composed my first orchestral piece and between age sixteen and nineteen director Nico Logghe of the Royal Wind Orchestra “Ypriana” asked me to make some compositions and arrangements for the orchestra accompanying some well-known Belgian artists (Raymond van het Groenewoud, Voice Mail, Kommil Foo and Bart Herman) and the famous Greek composer Yannis Markopoulos. When I was eighteen, my own saxophone quartet of the music school premiered a composition of me in Switzerland during the European week of Art Education and I wrote a Trombone concerto for Fanfare, premiered by the local fanfare of Lichtervelde, Belgium.

Early popular music projects

After having explored the basics of classical music, my interest in the more popular kinds of music grew. When I was fifteen, I set up my own pop-rock band in which I sang and played the piano. Some new bands, gigs and girlfriends later, I started producing and recording my own (mostly piano oriented) songs. A couple of years later (in 2008), all those efforts finally resulted in a full cd, a label contract for my pop-rock band AREEN and a small hit single on the national Radio 2. In folk-rock band ANVELD, which was another successful youth project, I played the saxophones and piano and was also one of the composers of the band. Between 2002 and 2008, I played numerous concerts on different national and international music festivals and venues with ANVELD.

Studying

After my high school education, I went to the conservatories of Brussels (2002) and Ghent (2003) to study “classical saxophone” with Norbert Nozy, Willy Demey, Raf Minten, Koen Maas en Rik Vaneyghen and preliminary composition with Dirk Brossé. I graduated Summa Cum Laude as a master and also earned my diploma of musical pedagogy. Two years before graduating, I already got the opportunity to perform the first version of my own concerto as a saxophone soloist, with conductor Dirk Brossé and the symphonic orchestra of the Ghent Conservatory. Subsequently I went to the Dutch conservatory of Tilburg to become a Master of Music in “composition jazz and popular music” and studied with Maino Remmers. During these composition studies, I wrote an extended essay "A Shönbergian analysis of the Blockbuster Wicked" in which I investigated the historical relevance of Arnold Schönberg’s book “Fundamentals of Musical Composition” for the music of "Wicked". I got the opportunity to meet triple oscar-grammy award winner and composer of "Wicked" Stephen Schwartz at his home in New York City to discuss my results with him. My essay scored Summa Cum Laude. In 2008 I also achieved the “Victor Legley Price” in Ypres; a price awarded to encourage previous music students in developing their professional career. In August 2009 I obtained my master-degree "composition popular-jazz music" Cum Laude.