Oscar Bettison's work demonstrates a willingness to work within and outside the confines of concert music. Often, he likes to work with what he calls Cinderella instruments (i.e. instruments that, for one reason or another are ‘off-the-beaten-path’), either by making percussion instruments, by re-imagining unconventional instruments and by writing for less-than-standard ensembles such as six pianos or four drum kits. More recent pieces have featured some electro-acoustic elements. His evening-long work O Death is concerned with bringing all these strands together.
Oscar Bettison was born in the UK. After studying in London with Simon Bainbridge at the Royal College of Music and with Robert Saxton at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama he went to the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague where he studied with Louis Andriessen and Martijn Padding. He hols a PhD from Princeton University where his advisor was Steve Mackey. He was a fellow at the Tanglewood (2001) and Aspen (2007) music festivals.
He is the recipient of the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music Pianist/Composer Commissioning Project (2009) a Jerwood Foundation Award (1998) the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize (1997) and the first BBC Young Composer of the Year Prize (1993). He was a Naumberg fellow at Princeton University from 2003-2007.
He has received commissions from the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association (2012), MusikFabrik (2012), Dartmouth University -for a new project with So Percussion (2012), The Tonlagen Festival in Hellerau, Germany (2010), The Roundhouse, London (2010), The Bang on a Can All-Stars (2010), Ensemble Klang (2006 & 2009), the Orkest De Ereprijs (2004), the Eliza Miller Dance Company (2004), the Oxford Contemporary Music Festival (2001), the New London Children’s Choir (1998), the London Sinfonietta (1997), and the BBC (1996), as well as receiving commission grants from the Rockefeller New York State Music Fund (2007), the New York State Council on the Arts (2007) F.A.P.K. (The Netherlands, 2007) The Netherlands America Foundation (2006) and the Danspace Project 2006-2007 Commissioning Initiative.
In addition to having works premiered on three continents (Europe, North America and Australia), his work has received press coverage in the UK, the US, the Netherlands, Italy and Australia and has been featured on British Radio, BBC Television, Australian Radio as well as being profiled in The Times (London).
Recordings include the full-length album O Death with Ensemble Klang and B&E (with aggravated assault) recorded by Newspeak on New Amsterdam Records.
Recent projects include include a new work for the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, co-commissioned by the German contemporary music ensemble MusikFabrik, the world-premiere of which will take place in Los Angeles in April 2012 conducted by John Adams, with the European premiere to follow, and a new piece for So Percussion.