Archive for July 26th, 2016

Composers Festival spotlight: Oscar Bettison

As one of two distinguished guest composers at the 2016 Mizzou International Composers Festival,
Oscar Bettison will give a public presentation on his music; mentor and teach the eight resident composers; and work with Alarm Will Sound, who will perform his chamber concerto “Livre des Sauvages” as part of Thursday night’s concert at the Missouri Theatre.

A member of the composition faculty of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University since 2009, Bettison originally is from Jersey, UK. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at the Royal College of Music in London, then studied for three years at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague before completing his Ph.D at Princeton University.

As a composer, Bettison is noted for his use of found and “junk” percussion and other examples of what he calls “Cinderella instruments” – “instruments that really shouldn’t be the belle-of-the-ball but I make them so” – as well as for using electric instruments more common to rock music than classical.

His works have been commissioned and performed by leading ensembles and soloists around the world. Recent commissions include the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, musikFabrik, Tanglewood Music Center, Talea Ensemble, Slagwerk Den Haag, So Percussion, Bang on a Can All-Stars and the New York Philharmonic‘s 2014 Biennial.

Bettison won the the very first BBC Young Composer of the Year Prize in 1993, and has gone on to earn numerous other awards and honors including a Chamber Music America Commissioning Award in 2013; the Yvar Mikhashoff Commissioning Fund Prize in 2009; and more, as well as fellowships to both the Tanglewood and Aspen music festivals.

His music has been featured on several recordings, including in 2010 a full-length album, “O Death,” featuring the evening-long work of that name performed by Ensemble Klang; and “B&E (with aggravated assault)”, performed by NEWSPEAK on New Amsterdam Records.

For more about Oscar Bettison, read the profile of him published in 2013 by Johns Hopkins Magazine, and his 2009 interview with CompositionToday.com.

You can hear samples of Bettison’s music on his SoundCloud page. In the embedded media players below, you can see a brief video profile of Bettison, produced by the Peabody Conservatory, and
a video interview in which he talks about “Livre des Sauvages,” plus performances of two of Bettison’s works.

Oscar Bettison talks about life as a composer and finding inspiration through teaching. See him give lessons to students at the Peabody Conservatory and listen in as he rehearses his piece “Apart,” written for So Percussion.

Oscar Bettison talks about his chamber concerto, Livre des Sauvages.

The East Coast premiere of Bettison’s “An Inventory of Remnants,”
performed by Choo Choo Hu (piano, percussion) during the New Music Gathering 2016, at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD.

“Vamp (movement 2)”, performed by Ensemble Offspring, with Lamorna Nightingale (piccolo), Claire Edwardes (percussion), and Jason Noble (clarinet), on March 18, 2014 at Riverside Theatre in Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia