World-class musician will perform Saturday at First Friends Church

SALEM – World-renowned musician Hector Olivera will return to Salem with his synthesized organ to play music for all ages during a concert at 7 p.m. Saturday at Salem First Friends Church.

According to Andy Black, the church’s associate pastor and director of music, the sounds he creates with that one organ make a listener think there is an entire orchestra backing him up.

Black has been playing piano since the age of 4 and has seen Olivera perform. He explained that the native of Argentina sets up the organ so a different set of keys represent the different instruments in an orchestra. In some of the songs, he can manipulate the keys to do different sounds.

During his last performance in Salem in September 2010, he performed the “Star Wars Theme” and included the sound of Darth Vader’s footsteps. He does things to bring a song to life.

“The things that he can do with his instrument do not seem possible to me. It just blows my mind,” Black said.

Olivera plays hymns, classical music such as Bach and Beethoven and contemporary symphonic instrumental works such as movie themes made famous by the great John Williams. He also arranges some of his own hymns.

Tickets for the concert are $15 and are available at the church on East Sixth Street through today or can be purchased at the door the night of the concert. Profits from the concert will benefit the church’s music department.

Doors open at 6 p.m., with all seats general admission, first come, first serve. Black estimated the concert will last about 90 minutes.

According to a short biography on Olivera, he entered the Buenos Aires Conservatory as a child prodigy at age 6 and “has become one of the most sought after and revered international concert organists of the present time.”

Born in Buenos Aires, he began playing the pipe organ at age 3. At age 5, he played for the legendary Eva Peron, at the age of 12 he entered the University of Buenos Aires and by the age of 18 had performed for heads of state and celebrities throughout Latin America.

He moved to the United States after being offered a scholarship to the renowned Juilliard School of Music in New York. His professional concert career was launched three years later when he won the AGO’s National Improvisation Contest.

He has performed solo concerts throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia, Central and Latin America and as guest soloist with prominent symphony orchestras worldwide.

“Whether in a prestigious venue like Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, Constitution Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, or in conjunction with a celebrated event like the Olympic games or the Classical Newport Music Festival, the most sophisticated and demanding organ aficionados claim that Maestro Hector Olivera is ‘one of the greatest organists in the world today,’” the biography said.