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Virtuoso of the keyboard and pipes

Hector Olivera, organist, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, at South Medford High School Auditorium, 815 S. Oakdale Ave., Medford. This marks the last concert of Jackson County Community Concerts' 67th season.

Olivera was born in Buenos Aires. He was encouraged by his first teacher (his father) to begin playing the pipe organ when he was 3. Two years later, Olivera was appointed organist of the Church of the Immaculate Conception. At 6, he entered the Buenos Aires Conservatory to study harmony, counterpoint and fugue. While at the conservatory he also learned the art of improvisation. By 9, he had composed a suite for oboe and string orchestra, which eventually was performed by the Buenos Aires Symphony Orchestra.

When he was 12, Olivera entered the University of Buenos Aires. By 18, he had performed more than 300 concerts throughout Latin America, appearing frequently on Argentine radio and television. During this time, he also served for three years as the senior improvisational accompanist for the Collegium Musicum in Buenos Aires.

In 1965, New York's Juilliard School of Music offered Olivera a scholarship and he immediately moved to the United States. Three years later he 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, Mexico, Latin America, Olivera also has played in Australia, Europe Japan, New Zealand and Taiwan. He has performed in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall, the Crystal Cathedral, Spivey Hall, Constitution Hall, Balboa Park and Dallas' Myerson Concert Hall.

Olivera also has performed as a guest soloist with many orchestras throughout the world. Composer Robert Vandall described his performance with the Tuscarawas Philharmonic as "an opportunity to hear and see greatness."

Olivera performed on Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion." He "literally stopped the show!" Keillor said. In 2004 Olivera's 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.

He continues to tour playing solo classical literature, popular works and his own orchestral transcriptions, now released on DVD and more than 20 classical, contemporary and film score CDs. Known for his technical virtuosity, he also noted for the way in which he engages the audience in the musical experience.

The Community Concert Association is a nonprofit organization bringing entertainment to the Rogue Valley through the power of prepaid subscriptions. 2007-08 season memberships are available for $60 adult, $25 student, and $90 reserved at the door, or from the Jackson County Community Concert Association, PO Box 1358, Medford OR 97501. Single tickets are $20 at the door. See webpages.charter.net/communityconcerts or call 734-4116.

Organist Hector Olivera will play the final concert of the season in the Community Concert Association series. - JCCA