Described as possessing "an unconventional lyricism and a menacing beauty," (WNYC Soundcheck) British-American composer Oscar Bettison's music has been commissioned and performed by leading ensembles and soloists around the world. His work demonstrates a willingness to work within and outside the confines of concert music. Working with what he calls "Cinderella instruments," Bettison makes or re-imagines instruments, as well as writing for instruments more common in rock music and the inclusion of electro-acoustic elements; his recent pieces have been concerned with bringing these strands together. His music has been featured and reviewed in the US, UK, Dutch, and Italian press, as well as played on TV and radio across US, UK, Australian, Dutch, and Brazilian media outlets. His recent work, Livre des Sauvages, has been described as "pulsating with an irrepressible energy and vitality, as well as brilliant craftsmanship" (Bachtrack).
Recent commissions have included major new works for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, musikFabrik, So Percussion, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Rolf Hind and the Roundhouse (London), and the Tonlagen Festival in Dresden. Recent performances include Sea Shaped, premiered by the Berkeley Symphony; Bird Forms on a Neutral Background, written for recorder player Susanna Borsch; An Automated Sunrise (for Joseph Cornell), premiered by the Talea Ensemble; and Animate Objects, written for musikFabrik. His work for solo viola, Threaded Madrigals, written for Rebecca Young, was premiered at the New York Philharmonic’s inaugural Biennial in June 2014.
He has been the recipient of a number of awards including of the Yvar Mikhashoff Commissioning Fund Prize (2009), a Jerwood Foundation Award (1998), the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize (1997), the first BBC Young Composer of the Year Prize (1993), as well as fellowships to both the Tanglewood and Aspen music festivals.
The subject of several recordings, his first full-length album, O Death (featuring the evening-long work of that name, performed by Ensemble Klang), was released in 2010 to great acclaim in the Dutch and US media. Other recent recordings include B&E (with aggravated assault) as performed by NEWSPEAK which was recently released on New Amsterdam Records, and Cadence, released by NMC Records.
Born in the UK, Bettison studied with Simon Bainbridge at the Royal College of Music (London), with Louis Andriessen and Martijn Padding at the Royal Conservatorium of The Hague (The Netherlands). He was a Naumberg fellow at Princeton University where he completed his PhD in 2008, and is currently on the composition faculty at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.
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Reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes.