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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.
Olivera was born in Buenos Aires, and his first teacher (who was his father) encouraged him to begin playing the pipe organ when he was three. Two years later, Hector 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 eventually performed by the Buenos Aires Symphony Orchestra.
Olivera entered the University of Buenos Aires when he was 12, 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, Olivera won the National Improvisation Contest sponsored by the American Guild of Organists, thereby launching his professional concert career.
Besides performing many concerts in the United States and throughout Mexico and Latin America, Olivera has also played in Australia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, and Taiwan. Notable venues have included the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall, the Crystal Cathedral, Spivey Hall, Constitution Hall, Balboa Park, and Dallas’ Myerson Concert Hall. He was also the featured organist in the 1978, 1980, and 1984 Manchester (UK) International Organ Festival.
In 1988, after years of performing in the United States, Olivera was invited to play again in Argentina. Upon arriving, he was treated like a national hero with SRO concerts attended by celebrities and heads of state, as well as featured on many radio television shows.
He has also performed as guest soloist with many orchestras throughout the world, including the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Amsterdam Baroque Ensemble, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Pasadena Symphony. (Composer Robert Vandall described Olivera’s performance with the Tuscarawas Philharmonic as “an opportunity to hear and see greatness.”) His collaboration with the Pasadena Symphony produced a limited Gold CD edition featuring Hector in the Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3.
In 1992, Olivera was featured 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, he performed on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion.
In 1996, again in Atlanta, Olivera performed at Spivey Hall in connection with the Olympic games, receiving many standing ovations and rave reviews. In 2000, Olivera performed a solo memorial concert in New York City’s St. Paul the Apostle Church as a tribute to his greatest hero and role model, organist Virgil Fox. He played a second Virgil Fox Memorial Concert at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, in 2004. He was invited again to perform for the American Guild of Organists National Convention in 2002, 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.
In addition to performing at concert halls throughout the world and presenting dedication recitals in churches and symphony halls, Hector Olivera consults on the design of Rodgers organs and represents both Rodgers Organs and the world’s prestigious Roland Corporation worldwide. Inspired by his love for the French pipe organ, Olivera recently designed an organ for the purpose of touring. The impressive four-manual Rodgers Trillium Masterpiece, complete with two 1000 lb speakers, was custom built by Rodgers Organs in Hillsboro, Oregon.
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.
For information about Hector Olivera’s performance schedule, recordings, and special events, visit hectorolivera.com.