Fernando Otero

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Fernando Otero
Fernando Otero LPRNYC 2012.jpg
Fernando Otero performing, 2012
Background information
Birth name Fernando Martin Otero
Born (1972-05-01) 1 May 1972 (age 45)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Genres Classical, contemporary classical, tango, Latin jazz, jazz
Occupation(s) Composer, pianist, vocalist
Instruments Piano, vocals, melodica, accordion, bass, percussion
Labels Warner Bros. Nonesuch Harmonia Mundi
Website www.fernandootero.com

Fernando Otero (born 1 May 1972) is a Grammy-Award Winning Argentine composer, pianist and vocalist[1] currently residing in New York City. His first contact with music was receiving vocal lessons from his mother Elsa Marval, an internationally acclaimed singer and actress. He started taking piano lessons at five. He also studied the guitar, drums, accordion, and melodica, instruments he plays occasionally. A classically trained and virtuoso pianist, Otero studied classical music since childhood. He has since developed his own style which has elements of jazz,[2]tango, and contemporary classical music. [3]


Otero found his voice as writer, musician and bandleader when, at the urging of one of his music teachers, he began to incorporate the indigenous sounds of his native Buenos Aires into his work, as he did in his Nonesuch debut Pagina de Buenos Aires in 2008. He has been described by many critics as a classically trained virtuoso pianist and composer who developed his own style by blending elements of classical contemporary music and improvisation while acknowledging Tango as a starting point. Shortly after moving to the US in the 1990s, he worked with correspondingly diverse collaborators including Paquito D'Rivera, the Kronos Quartet, Quincy Jones, one-time Bill Evans sideman Eddie Gómez, flautist Dave Valentin and pianist/film composer Dave Grusin, among others, and he sat in with Arturo O'Farrill’s Jazz Orchestra a Symphony Space, Lincoln Center and during their Sunday night residency at New York City’s Birdland, performing his compositions with this large jazz ensemble also at Lincoln Center and Symphony Space.[4] He also performed with clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera on stage, at Birdland, Blue Note, the Caramoor Festival and in the recording studio. He joined the Paquito D'Rivera Quintet for the recording of Funk Tango, which includes Otero's composition Milonga 10 .[5][6] With Funk Tango, The Paquito D'Rivera Quintet received in 2008 the Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album.[7]

Otero has recorded 15 albums as a solo artist and performs more than 50 international concerts yearly. His works are published by Warner Chappell Music and his albums have been released by Nonesuch Records, Warner Music, Harmonia Mundi and World Village. He has received commissions from performers and institutions worldwide and has written music for orchestra, chamber ensembles, string quartet and choir, as well as for solo instruments including piano, violin and cello. Many of his compositions were commissioned by The New York State Council on The Arts , Lincoln Center, Laguna Beach Festival (featuring Otero as composer-in-residence), St. Ursanne International Piano Festival in Switzerland, and by performers such as the Kronos Quartet, the Imani Winds ensemble, Arturo O'Farrill, Inbal Segev and Jason Vieaux .[8][9]

Musical career[edit]

In 2005 Eddie Gómez introduced Otero as one of the great pianists of the new generation.[10]

In January 2008 Otero released the album Pagina de Buenos Aires from Nonesuch Records. Critics describe the album as "[u]rbane and exotic, surreal and streetwise, and alive with invention and emotion".[11]

In February 2008 the Kronos Quartet premiered "El Cerezo" ("The Cherry Tree") at Carnegie Hall, a one-movement work for string quartet commissioned from Otero that "blended tango-infused lyrical interludes into a sometimes dissonant canvas."[12]

In 2010 he received the Latin Grammy Award for Best Classical Album for Vital.[13] In 2015 he was nominated for the Latin Grammy Award for "Best Classical Album" and for "Best Classical Contemporary Composition" for his album Ritual.[14]

Otero's album Romance (Soundbrush Records) was released in 2013, and has been described as "an exhilarating surprise - a collection of beautifully crafted short pieces that are both jazzy and lyrical, brought to life by a superb ensemble of instrumentalists and singers".[15] In 2014 he released the album entitled Prima Donna,an intimate celebration of the artistic career of Elsa Marval, Fernando Otero's mother and musical mentor. Elsa Marval was an internationally acclaimed Opera singer, composer, pianist and actress, who died in 2010.[16] Prima Donna features pieces for solo piano, showing Otero’s song-like melodic approach and his use of a wide palette of pianistic colors, and also his rhythmical side when performing fast tempo pieces, playing notes repeated with piston-like precision with sudden detours into more impressionistic textures.[17] A rendition of "El Portenito" , a piece written by Argentine composer Angel Villoldo gives us an idea of how Otero can cover well-known compositions in order to expose his personal view of them.[18] The album also includes orchestral and chamber music pieces plus a sonata for Solo Violin in one-movement using a wide palette of violin techniques, which Otero wrote for long-time collaborator Nick Danielson.[19] In Prima Donna, Otero ratchets up the contemporary classical music elements that were already evident on his Warner Music album entitled Pagina de Buenos Aires (Nonesuch). The last piece in the recording is a rendition of Quincy Jones’ composition The Pawnbroker, arranged by Otero. The arrangement showcases Quincy Jones's melodic style combined with Fernando's orchestral technique and pianistic language.The album was produced by Ruben Parra and recorded in New York and Los Angeles.[20] [21]

Fernando Otero released 'Ritual in 2015, bringing a collection of new compositions for Orchestra, Voices Chamber Ensembles and Solo Piano. The composer appeared to be working more towards the production of formal classical works which display a significant grounding in the Argentine lyricism -usually associated with Tango- plus elements of classical music and piano improvisation. This work features vocal and violin lines, full orchestra textures and Otero’s pianism.The album emphasizes melodic and slow tempos and the bandoneon is present in two of the pieces, driving the listener into an Argentine atmosphere, both timbrical and melodic. Otero received two Latin Grammy nominations for Ritual, as Best Classical Album and "Best Contemporary Classical Composition", for his composition entitled Conexion. [22]

In 2016, Otero put out another studio work entitled Enigma [23]and was nominated for Best Classical Contemporary Composition for his piece Jardin Del Adios . His latest album, Solo Buenos Aires, [24]came out in April 2017,in which Otero reconnects with the song form, comprising a collection of songs written during the first half of the 20th century in Buenos Aires, with arrangements for orchestra.

Musical style[edit]

Otero's music has been described to "vibrantly [summon] tango ancestors while also acknowledging Béla Bartók and Sergei Prokofiev", and his playing style has been described to "bore traces of jazz pianists like Bill Evans and Don Pullen". The resulting synthesis proposed bold new directions for a venerable tradition."[25]

Neely Bruce, Professor of Music at Wesleyan, when describing Otero's music, says, "It’s exciting, it’s full of variety, it’s very dramatic, very rhythmically complex; it sounds like tango on steroids."[26]

Otero's study of drums becomes evident in pieces like Preludio 4, described as "a whirlwind piano solo that showcases Otero’s formidable keyboard prowess. (The earlier Pagina de Buenos Aires album featured his 'Preludio 19)."[27]



  1. ^ Nate Knaebel (Jan–Feb 2008). "Fernando Otero: Pagina de Buenos Aires (review)". CMJ New Music Monthly. p. 45. Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  2. ^ Jon Pareles (January 2012). "New York Band, Worldly Desires". New York Times. 
  3. ^ Nate Chinen (February 2008). "The Music OF Tango and Improvisation". New York Times. 
  4. ^ Symphony Space. "Sounds Heard:Symphony Space - Rebels+REDS: Fernando Otero + Nick Danielson". Symphony Space. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  5. ^ Michael Hill. "About Fernando Otero". Nonesuch Records. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  6. ^ Scott Albin (2007-03-11). "Jazz Reviews: Funk Tango Paquito D'Rivera Quintet -By Scott Albin-Jazz Articles". Jazztimes.com. 
  7. ^ "Early 50th annual Grammy Award winners". USA Today. February 10, 2008. Retrieved November 3, 2010. 
  8. ^ Sherrie Rase (March 2013). "Fernando Otero’s "Romance" CD". qonstage.com. 
  9. ^ Frank J. Oteri (2013-03-12). "Sounds Heard: Fernando Otero —Romance". NewMusicBox. 
  10. ^ "Eddie Gomez with Mark Kramer introduces 3 Pianists of the Next Generation at the Iridium, July 15, 16 and 17". All About Jazz. July 15, 2005. 
  11. ^ Tim Nelson (January 25, 2008). "BBC Music Review: Fernando Otero - Pagina de Buenos Aires". 
  12. ^ Vivian Schweitzer (February 25, 2008). "Music Review: Kronos Quartet - Premieres Range in Palette From Balkans to Argentina". The New York Times. 
  13. ^ "Fernando Otero Wins Latin Grammy Award". Nonesuch Records. November 15, 2010. 
  14. ^ "16a Entrega Anual del Latin GRAMMY". latingrammy.com. November 20, 2015. 
  15. ^ Brian Kellow (February 2013). "A Trip to the Argentine". Opera News. 
  16. ^ Maria Laura Giovagnini (May 2014). "Mi Manda Salma Hayek". Corriere Della Sera. 
  17. ^ Intropink (September 2014). "The Album Prima Donna by Fernando Otero a virtuoso pianist". intropink music for relaxation and meditation. 
  18. ^ Carlos Salatino (December 2014). "con sutil espiritu de tango". Tiempo Argentino. 
  19. ^ Humberto Acciarressi (October 2014). "Fernando Otero y un tributo a su madre Elsa Marval". La Razon. 
  20. ^ All Music Guide (September 2014). "Fernando Otero Prima Donna". all music guide. 
  21. ^ Cristian Vitale (October 2014). "Arreglar es algo fascinante". pagina12.com.ar. 
  22. ^ Cristian Vitale (November 2015). "Mi Punto De Partida Es Emocional". pagina12.com.ar. 
  23. ^ CDBaby (May 2016). "Enigma". [[1]]. 
  24. ^ CDBaby (April 2017). "Enigma". [[2]]. 
  25. ^ Steve Smith (February 7, 2012). "Music Review: Marathon With Room for Art Songs and Electronics". The New York Times. 
  26. ^ Andrew Chatfield (April 13, 2012). "'Tango on Steroids': Virtuoso Pianist Graces Wesleyan Stage". Patch. 
  27. ^ Frank J. Oteri (March 12, 2013). "Sounds Heard: Fernando Otero—Romance". NewMusicBox. 

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