On Saturday, Jan. 14, world-class maestro, Hector Olivera, brought his internationally acclaimed performance to SVSU’s Rhea Miller Concert Series.
Among others, Olivera has been positively reviewed by The American Organist, The Washington Post and The Atlanta Journal.
“It is totally impossible, in print, to adequately describe and do justice to the brilliance of his technique,” the Manchester Organ Society Magazine said in a review of Olivera’s performance.
Olivera uses his technical skill on the organ to act as a one-man orchestra.
“(The organ) is the king of the instruments,” Olivera said. “It’s really the only instrument that can support itself without any need of accompaniment. The organ has everything.”
Playing SVSU’s Hauptwerk Instrument, Olivera was able to bring the sounds of Bach on an of-era organ to concert attendees.
“(The Hauptwerk Instrument) is an ordinary organ body, but it’s computerized,” music department chair Jane Girdham said. “You can load in the sounds of a particular famous organ. While this instrument is certainly not unique, as there’s a company that manufactures them, it is still fairly rare.”
The most interesting aspect of this type of organ, as stated by Olivera, is that one can hear what it sounded like when it was in another place in another time.
“You get to hear, in your living room or in this recital hall, an organ that lives in the Netherlands or England,” Olivera said.
Prior to his performance at SVSU, Olivera spent the day with students and faculty of the music department performing demonstrations on SVSU’s recently acquired Hauptwerk Instrument.
“I think it went very well for them to comprehend what the instrument was all about, and the possibilities that the organ offers,” Olivera said.
Tailoring his musical selections to SVSU and the Hauptwerk Instrument during his performance, Olivera delivered a concert without program information.
Later, Olivera would go on to describe the organ loaded into the Hauptwerk Instrument during the first half as “bright,” filling the concert hall with soft, light tones and leading up to thundering notes where the performer could be seen throwing his weight into the keys and appearing to dance over the peddles. The first portion of the concert revolved around the baroque style and Bach.
“He’s going to play a French organ in the second half, and I honestly have no idea what he’s going to play,” Girdham said.
Olivera described the organ used during the second half, which is physically located in Caen, France, as dry, brassy, and reedy. He stated that he had to do some work to get the tones right, as the organ loaded into the instrument delivered a particularly dry pitch.
For the finale, Olivera performed an improvisation. He kept the French flavor of the second half, playfully adding in various musical elements, such as the theme from Star Wars.
Olivera delivered an exceptional performance. In addition to performing Bach, Handel and other recognizable music, Olivera spoke casually with the audience, often eliciting bouts of laughter throughout the concert hall. Although the experience was tailored for music aficionados, Olivera provided an enjoyable experience for more casual audiences as well.
“I’m just a little guy pushing the notes and pulling the stops,” said Olivera. “Hopefully all of this turns into being a production of music. That’s my goal, to achieve music. I don’t do pyrotechnics, I don’t come out with a cape and swing in from the trees or anything like that. For me, it’s just about making music.”