Hector Olivera, organ
Organist Hector Olivera is a passionate, gifted, and unique musician whose personal interpretations of both classical and popular music have amazed and delighted audiences around the world.
The Times Reporter describes an evening with Hector Olivera as “An event, a happening, a joyful celebration of the sheer power and pressure that a true virtuoso like Hector Olivera can unleash in a concert hall.”
Born in Buenos Aires, Mr. Olivera’s first teacher, his father, encouraged him to begin playing the pipe organ when he was three. Two years later, he was appointed organist of the Church of the Immaculate Conception. At six, he entered the Buenos Aires Conservatory to study harmony, counterpoint, and fugue. Beginning to learn the art of improvisation there, by nine, he had composed a suite for oboe and string orchestra, which was performed by the Buenos Aires Symphony Orchestra.
At age 12, Mr. Olivera entered the University of Buenos Aires where he studied with Hector Zeoli and Juan Francisco Giacobbe. By 18, he had performed more than 300 concerts throughout Latin America, appearing frequently on Argentinean radio and television. During this time, he also served for three years as the senior improvisational accompanist for the Collegium Musicum in Buenos Aires, vastly increasing his prodigious improvisational talent.
In 1965, New York’s prestigious Juilliard School of Music offered him a scholarship. He immediately moved to the United States to study with Vernon de Tar and Bronson Reagan. Three years later, Mr. Olivera won the National Improvisation Contest sponsored by the American Guild of Organists, thereby launching his outstanding professional concert career.
Besides playing many concerts in the United States, Mr. Olivera has performed in Australia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Wales, Scotland, Holland, Italy, Japan, Canada, Mexico, China, Argentina, Belgium, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Spain, Austria, Norway and Switzerland. Prestigious venues have included the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Spivey Hall in Atlanta, Constitution Hall in Washington D.C, the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Balboa Park in San Diego, Myerson Concert Hall in Dallas, Verizon Hall in Philadelphia, and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
In 1988, after years of performing in the United States, Mr. Olivera was invited to play once again in Argentina. Upon arriving, he was welcomed as a national hero with ‘Standing Room Only’ concerts attended by celebrities and heads of state, as well as featured on national radio and television shows.
Mr. Olivera has performed as guest soloist with orchestras throughout the world, including the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Fort Wayne Symphony, the Dover-New Philadelphia Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Amsterdam Baroque Ensemble, the Minnesota Orchestra and the Pasadena Symphony. Composer Robert Vandall described Mr. Olivera’s performance with the Tuscarawas Philharmonic as "an opportunity to hear and see greatness." His collaboration with the Pasadena Symphony produced a ‘Limited Edition Gold CD’ featuring Mr. Olivera in the Saint-Saën’s Symphony No. 3.
In 1992, Mr. Olivera was guest artist at the American Guild of Organists’ convention at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta performing the world premiere of a commissioned work written by William Albright. Later, from this same stage, Mr. Olivera performed on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, and according to Keillor, he "literally stopped the show!"
In 1996, in celebration of the Olympic games, Mr. Olivera was given the honor to perform a solo concert at Spivey Hall in Atlanta for which he received multiple standing ovations and rave reviews. The Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote, “Olivera swept the audience with absolute Olympic virtuosity, and that still doesn’t say it.... Hector Olivera is in a class by himself.”
In 2000, Mr. Olivera performed a solo memorial concert in New York City’s St. Paul the Apostle as a tribute to his hero and role model, organist Virgil Fox. He played a subsequent Virgil Fox Memorial Concert at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco in 2004.
In 2002, Mr. Olivera was invited again to perform for the American Guild of Organists’ National Convention, where his transcription of Stravinsky's Firebird Suite spontaneously brought the large audience of peers to their feet. Again, in 2004, his appearance before the Guild’s National Convention in Los Angeles was considered an historic triumph by 2,200 cheering organists, who gave him four standing ovations in 45 minutes.
By popular demand, Mr. Olivera continues to perform regularly at the celebrated Newport Classical Music Festival, being the featured artist for the opening and closing gala concerts. The Providence Journal acclaimed, “Organist Hector Olivera brought the Newport Music Festival to a spectacular close.”
By invitation, Mr. Olivera performed a solo concert that was attended by an audience of 5000 at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on August 12, 2007.
In 2010, Mr. Olivera’s magnificent recital at the renowned Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles moved an enthusiastic audience to its feet. The Pasadena Star quoted, “Olivera began winsomely but gradually morphed into a gigantic mass of sound with elements of Messiaen, Vierne and others folded in, including a reprise of the Bach Passacaglia and Fugue from the first half. The audience was on its collective feet at the end, deservedly…. No encores were played… or needed.”
Mr. Olivera continues to thrill audiences with both solo classical literature and his own orchestral transcriptions, now released on DVD, and more than 20 classical, contemporary, and film score CDs.
Although most famous for his prodigious technical proficiency, Mr. Olivera’s amazing effect on audiences has made many of the most sophisticated and demanding organ aficionados claim that Maestro Hector Olivera is “one of the greatest organists in the world today.”
For information about Hector Olivera's performance schedule, CDs/DVDs, critical acclaims and special events, visit www.hectorolivera.com.