Betty Olivero is a contemporary Israeli composer, who has lived during most of her career in Florence, Italy.
In Olivero's works, traditional and ethnic music materials are processed using western contemporary compositional techniques; traditional melodies and texts undergo processes of development, adaptation, transformation, assimilation, resetting and re-composition, to the point of assuming new forms in different contexts. These processes touch on wide and complex areas of contrast, such as east and west, holy and secular, traditional and new.
Olivero was awarded the Fromm Award by the Fromm Music Foundation (USA, 1986), the Prime Minister's Prize (Israel, 2001), the Rosenblum Award for the Performing Arts (Israel, 2003), the Landau Award for the Performing Arts (Israel, 2004), the ACUM prize for Life Achievements (Israel, 2004), the Prime Minister's Prize (Israel, 2009) and the ACUM Award for Achievement of the Year(Israel, 2010). While still studying in Israel, Betty Olivero was granted scholarships from the America-Israel-Cultural-Foundation.
In 2000 Olivero was awarded the prestigious Koussevitzky Award by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation and the Library of Congress, Washington USA, one of the most important international awards, given annually only to six composers.
Olivero's works are published by Universal Music Publishing Classical (Casa Ricordi Music Milano) in Italy, and the Israel Music Institute (IMI) in Israel. Her works were recorded by ECM, Angel, Koch International, Ricordi, Pläne, IMI, Beit Hatefutsoth, and Folkways records companies.
Between 2004-2008 Olivero was composer-in-residence for the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra.
Olivero is currently living in Israel. She is a mother of two children and is a full professor of composition at the Music Department in Bar-Ilan University.
"I find the process of confronting and juxtaposing traditional, formal means with contemporary vocabulary to be highly challenging and of great curiosity. One of the most fundamental issues in my work, and the aim of my musical creation, is to use traditional, ethnic music materials in the compositional processes and thereby participate in the essence of oral tradition: transmission of essence, through evolution of expression: preservation and change. I do not seek these materials out of any scientific-musicological point of view. They serve purely as a dramatic stimulus and as a point of reference. Close scrutiny of these sources uncovers hidden, unpremeditated musical means, which invite further extension and development. These traditional melodies and texts undergo thorough transformation, so profound as to make their original form, at times, unrecognizable, yet their spirit and highly-charged dramatic potential remain untouched."
BETTY OLIVERO was born in Tel-Aviv, Israel. She studied at the Rubin Academy of Music, at Tel Aviv University and Bar-Ilan University with Itzhak Sadai and Leon Shidlowsky, and at Yale University where her teachers included Jacob Druckman and Bernard Rands. In 1982 a Leonard Bernstein Scholarship enabled her to work at Tanglewood with Luciano Berio, with whom she continued to study in Italy (1983-86).
Olivero's innovative music speaks the language of contemporary compositional form, yet is inspired by ancient Jewish and other early musical traditions. Folk material appears in rich, nuanced arrangements, or is blended through avant-garde transformations into textures featuring dense heterophony, rhythmic complexity and rich orchestration. Her style is coherent and non-eclectic, yet combines elements as diverse as Judeo-Spanish (sephardic) music, Arab tunes and medieval music integrated into a contemporary musical language.
Olivero's compositions have been performed by leading orchestras and chamber groups such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the London Sonfonietta, the Amsterdam Sinfonietta, the Juilliard Ensemble and the Arditti Quartet, and at many major European, North American and Asian festivals.
(Adaptation of the biography from the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians)