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Highly acclaimed organist Hector Olivera returns to Pacific Symphony to perform his own arrangements of Bach and Piazzolla as well as Guilmant, Mozart and Lefébure-Wély
Orange County, Calif. — February 20, 2015
The spectacular William J. Gillespie Concert Organ meets its match with this year’s soloist, Hector Olivera, who returns for his second recital with Pacific Symphony’s Pedals and Pipes series. Known for his passionate musicianship and interpretations of both classical and popular music, organ virtuoso Olivera opens the program with his own arrangements of Bach’s vigorous Sinfonia from Cantata No. 29, and Piazzolla’s somber “Oblivion.” Guilmant’s Sonata No. 8 showcases the vast range of the organ and Mozart’s Fantasia in F Minor reveals the terrifying power as well as the sublime beauty the organ is capable of producing. In addition, Lefébure-Wély’s March in C Major is spirited in French style, and as a finale, Olivera brings his virtuosic improvisation skills to the stage, creating a new piece based on themes suggested by the audience. This recital takes place on Sunday, March 8, at 7:30 p.m. in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Tickets are $10-50; for more information or to purchase tickets call (714) 755-5799 or visit www.PacificSymphony.org.
“Olivera swept the audience with absolute Olympic virtuosity, and that still doesn’t say it.... Hector Olivera is in a class by himself.” — Atlanta Journal
“The magnificent organ created by C.B. Fisk, combined with the pristine acoustics of Segerstrom Concert Hall, what’s not to love about that!” says Olivera about the recital. He continues, “I consider myself honored and lucky to have been invited to perform once more in this beautiful house of music.”
Having composed more than 240 cantatas, Bach’s Sinfonia from Cantata No. 29, “We thank you, God, we thank you,” was written while he was Kapellmeister at Leipzig’s most prestigious church for the occasion of the changing of the Leipzig town council, and was one that he performed himself. Although the Sinfonia was not required for the cantata due to its non-religious significance, Bach included it anyway, most likely as an opportunity to express his devotion to God directly. This introductory piece follows a path of perpetual motion that explores many keys along the way.
Piazzolla’s “Oblivion,” in contrast, lingers with a mournful quality that is full of soul. Piazzolla studied and lived in America and used European form, but he wrote music that echoes his Argentinian heritage. Like “Oblivion,” most of his pieces have traces of the tango, and as such, a melancholy tone remains in his works among a complexity of emotions.
“I hope everybody will like my transcription of the famous work titled ‘Oblivion’ by Astor Piazzolla,” says Olivera. “I am also looking forward to performing the Sonata No. 8 in five movements of Alexander Guilmant. While Guilmant’s compositions are known in the organ world, this piece is not performed enough.”
Unlike Bach and Piazzolla, Guilmant composed almost strictly for his own instrument, the organ. He wrote numerous sonatas and even some symphonies that brought out the enormity of the organ’s range. His eighth Sonata, arranged and published as his Organ Symphony No. 2, demonstrates this precisely, as well as showcases the vast expressiveness of the organ compared to an orchestra or individual instruments. Guilmant is one of the only composers to create a symphony for organ and orchestra, and he wrote many of them, displaying the organ’s monumental sound throughout them all.
When one thinks of Mozart’s music, feathery and delicate notes comes to mind. However, Mozart wrote big and majestic music as well, such as his opera “Don Giovanni.” His Fantasia in F Minor is another example. Mozart originally wrote this work on a tabletop mechanical organ, an elaborate cousin of a child’s music box, but was frustrated by the high-pitched pipes of the instrument. Played by the hands of Olivera on the William J. Gillespie concert organ, this is no longer a problem, and the flowing legatos and martial rhythms of Mozart’s music are revealed.
Lefébure-Wély was a French organ specialist who delighted in composing popular musical entertainment of his time. His music has stayed popular over the years because of the originality and nature of his compositions. His March in C Major has a solid and grand sound that has made it enjoyable for generations.
Concluding the concert is Olivera’s own improvisations. Olivera grew up in Buenos Aires and began his studying music at the age of 3. By 18, he had already performed 300 concerts throughout Latin America, and was invited to study at The Juilliard School of Music in New York. Following his studies in America, he went on to perform all across the globe in places such as Australia, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Scotland, Holland, Italy, New Zealand, Malaysia, Spain, Austria, Norway and Switzerland. When he returned to Argentina, Olivera was welcomed as a national hero, and is now considered to be one of the greatest organists in the world today.
Olivera is able to keep each performance unique and fresh with ease. “The answer is very simple,” says Olivera, “I have a passion for the ‘King of Instruments.’ Along with the talent that God gave me, I focus on the art of making music, rather than solely on the technique or the notes, and that, combined with my passion for the organ, quite simply, makes the music shine through.”
The Symphony’s “Pedals and Pipes” organ series continues Sunday, May 5, at 3 p.m., when Dennis James performs the soundtrack to the 1925 silent film, “The Gold Rush,” starring Charlie Chaplin.
The Pedals and Pipes series is generously sponsored by Barry and Valerie Hon.
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