Norbert Ommer studied piano and clarinet performance in Cologne, followed by studies of music and information technology at the Robert Schumann Music Academy in Düsseldorf, where he graduated as a sound engineer. Since his student days, he has worked as a freelance radio and television sound engineer.
He has worked regularly with the Ensemble Modern as director of sound since 1990, becoming a shareholder in 1997, while also working as a sound engineer with the WDR (West German Radio) Big Band. Norbert Ommer was in charge of the sound design and sound direction for world premieres by Frank Zappa (»The Yellow Shark«, »Greggery Peccary & other persuasions«), Heiner Goebbels (»Surrogate Cities«, »Black on White«, »Industry and Idleness«, »Eislermaterial«, »Walden« and »Landscape with distant relatives«), Steve Reich (»Proverb«, »City Life«, »Three Tales« and »You are«), Michael Brecker (»Some Skunk Funk«), Patti (»Avant Gershwin«), Joe Zawinul (»Brown Street«) and Michael Gordon (»Decasia«, »Shelter«), and Ryuichi Sakamoto & Carsten Nicolai (»utp«).
In November 2002 Norbert Ommer was awarded the Golden Bobby: this prize, given out for the first time by the VDT (Society of German Sound Engineers), honours extraordinary performances in sound design and sound directing. In October 2004 he received the Echo Classic Award together with the Ensemble Modern. Early in 2003 Norbert Ommer collaborated for the first time with the Berlin Philharmonic under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle. He has also been teaching sound design at the International Ensemble Modern Academy and at the Academy for Music and Performing Arts in Frankfurt / Main since December 2003. Since 2005, he has given seminars on sound design at Tokyo Wonder Site and the Klangspuren in Schwaz.
He has been involved in numerous international festivals like Wien Modern, Frankfurt Feste, Festival d'Automne in Paris, Arts Musica Brussels, the Holland Festival, Salzburg Festival, BBC Proms, Donaueschingen Music Days, Edinburgh International Festival, Lincoln Center Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival Amsterdam and the Telstra Adelaide.