I sang my first arrangement of a Vietnamese carol Cao Cung Lên by Gregory Notebaert in 2015. From that time I have grown to appreciate and love his arrangements and original compositions for choir and orchestra. I have also known Gregory as conductor of both the International Choir and Orchestra of HCMC and the Saigon Chamber Consort where I sang in the bass sections. Gregory’s arrangements and original compositions are both challenging and sensitive to the poetic line of the lyrics. Some of his compositions, like Rorate Cæli Desuper incorporate traditional themes and styles – like Gregorian chant – which make them both appealing to the audience and challenging and fun for the chorister alike.
With Grégory Notebaert I realized several liturgical songs as a lyricist. He understands the rhythm of words and the dynamics of sentences. His melodies are beautiful and they are dressed in harmonizations that enhance the singing. We are preparing together an upcoming CD with hymns of praise. The composition contest in Lyon in 2018, on the theme Laudato si, was a highlight of our collaboration. His musical work deserves attention.
I met Grégory in September 2006 at the Conservatory of Roubaix, he was studying harmony and counterpoint with my colleague Franck Zigante and wanted to be trained as an orchestrator in my class. His thirst for learning, his musical curiosity and his enthusiasm were as compelling as his personal involvement for studies, he, the atypical self-taught musician, who had felt unjustly rejected by some institutions. He achieved, within a few years, impressive progress, which allowed him to develop his skills, serving his passion: composition. Since then, despite the geographical distance, a beautiful friendship binds us and I am very touched to see how important music is in his life. I closely follow the evolution of his compositions, which resemble him very much: generous, sensitive, with appealing melodies, a close relationship between text and music, and an unconditional love for counterpoint.
Gregory Notebaert is an extremely talented composer and director. Having sung under his baton for over three years in the International Choir and Orchestra of Ho Chi Minh City as well as the Saigon Chamber Consort, I have had the chance to sing many of his original compositions. His works are intellectually complex with fascinating rhythmic devices as well as melodically appealing. In my singing career of over 30 years, I have rarely seen a talent such as Greg.
Greg’s favorite field is liturgical music, and he excels in it. He has a concern for the ritual specifications, to write music that is “in close connection” with the various rites (as requested by Vatican Council II). He is also concerned to help congregations participate liturgy through singing, while giving a place to the choir. His music is limpid, classical, full of finesse. His instrumental compositions breathe freshness and are a pleasure to listen to!