Special to the Gazette
Pianist/composer Olivia Pérez-Collellmir has announced the Sept. 15 release of her debut full-length album OLIVIA (Adhyâropa Records). Pérez-Collellmir lives in Jamaica Plain and teaches at Berklee School of Music.
A wonderfully nuanced and diverse collection of music spanning many of Olivia’s own musical interests, this extraordinary recording explores the marriage of flamenco music and Latin jazz with Spanish folk traditions and classical music, creating a universal sound with no musical boundaries. Hailed as a “Spanish virtuoso” who adds “a flamenco touch to chamber jazz” (The Arts Fuse), Olivia captures the indigenous Catalan sounds of her hometown of Barcelona, Spain.
Growing up amongst the sounds of flamenco, along with her studying classical piano, Olivia has always held a life-long passion for the fusion of musical styles, including jazz. According to composer Osvaldo Golijov, her music “is a striking and gorgeous distillation of profound lyricism and rhythms that are ferocious and elegant at the same time.” Olivia puts her captivating technique and artistry on full display on her new recording. With OLIVIA the pianist stays true to the Spanish influences that have shaped her artistic sound and identity as a musician; the recording also makes some exotic escapes to India and the Middle East.
Produced by Grammy nominee Gonzalo Grau and recorded in 2021-22, the selections being released include a handful of original songs by Olivia, and arrangements of pieces by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) and Frederic Mompou (1893-1987), one of the most universal Catalan composers. The album’s emotional centerpiece, Barcelona, is a tribute to the composer’s hometown. Classical music arrangements are performed here by a small chamber ensemble laced with the rhythms of traditional flamenco music, vocals, and handclapping.
Olivia’s work has allowed her to branch out to musicians all over the world. 18 of today’s finest international artists can be heard collaborating in the material she chose to record on OLIVIA. Musicians include instrumentalists: Barcelonian Aleix Tobias (percussion), Boston-based John Lockwood (bass) and Bertram Lehmann (drums), Miami-born José Moreno (cajón), Palestinian Naseem Alatrash (cello), Israeli Amir Milstein (flute), Argentine Fernando Huergo (electric bass), French-Mexican Leonardo Prakash (guitar), Indian Giri Subramaniam (tabla), Turkish-born Bengisu Gokce (violin), UK-born Helen Sherrah-Davies (violin), Boston-based Josh Wareham (viola), and Australian James Heazlewood Dale (acoustic bass); vocalists Judit Neddermann, Loreto de Diego, and Shradha Ganesh; and Spanish flamenco artists Ismael Fernández and Sonia Olla.
Olivia Pérez Collellmir will celebrate the album’s release in New York City at DROM Oct. 4, and in Boston, MA, at David Friend Recital Hall Mar. 12.
Olivia Pérez-Collellmir is a solo pianist, composer and music director from Barcelona, Spain. Her musical and creative life as a pianist and composer are dedicated to the celebration and contemporary transformation of her Spanish – and more specifically, Catalan roots.
Olivia started playing piano at the age of four and began studying under Núria Bonells, a disciple of Alicia de Larrocha, and entered The Superior Conservatory of Music in Barcelona at the age of eight. As a young scholar pianist, Olivia toured performing Faure’s Nocturnes and Bach’s Partitas and also recorded for the National Radio of Spain. In addition, she was selected to play at the Centre de Musique Hindemith in Switzerland on the international performance piano stage. After receiving bachelor’s degrees in classical performance from the Conservatori Superior de Música de Barcelona and philosophy from the University of Barcelona, Olivia became a head of music for the Department of Education of Catalonia where she conducted, recorded, toured, and performed.
An honors graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston with a dual major in Performance and Professional Music, Olivia is the composer and performer of the award-winning compositions “Barcelona” and “Together,” which she premiered at the Berklee Performance Center. She is a winner of the Berklee Piano Department’s prestigious Chair Award, as well as a Piano Achievement Award. Currently, Olivia is a member of the faculty in the Berklee piano department. As a tribute to her heritage, she incentivized the formation of the first Berklee Contemporary Spanish Music and Flamenco Jazz Ensemble, that culminated its work with artists in residence, renowned dancer Sonia Olla and singer Ismael Fernández, at the Berklee Performance Center in January 2020. As a performer, Olivia has performance residencies at The Beehive, the Beat Hotel, La Fábrica Central and performs at many other venues in the US and internationally: El Gran Teatre del Liceu and Teatre Nacional de Catalunya in Barcelona; SOB’s in New York City; Regattabar, Ryles, Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Agganis Arena in Boston, among others. For more info, visit OliviaPerezCollellmir.com.