Described as possessing "an unconventional lyricism and a menacing beauty" and a “unique voice”, British/American composer Oscar Bettison's music has been commissioned and performed by leading ensembles and soloists around the world. His work demonstrates a willingness to work within and outside the confines of concert music. He likes to work with what he calls "Cinderella instruments", either by making percussion instruments or by re-imagining other instruments as well as writing for instruments more common in rock music and the inclusion of electro-acoustic elements. More recent pieces have been concerned with bringing these strands together. His music as been featured and reviewed in the LA Times, the New York Times, the British, Dutch and Italian press as well as having been played on radio throughout the US, Australia, Britain, The Netherlands and Brazil and on British and Dutch Television. His latest work has been described as “pulsating with an irrepressible energy and vitality, as well as brilliant craftsmanship.”
Recent commissions have included new works for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The New York Philharmonic Contact! Series, MusikFabrik, The Berkeley Symphony, Talea Ensemble, So Percussion, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Rolf Hind and the Roundhouse (London), the Tanglewood Music Center, the Dag in de Branding Festival (The Netherlands) and the Tonlagen Festival (Germany).
He has been the recipient of a number of awards including a Chamber Music America Commissioning Award (2013), the Yvar Mikhashoff Commissioning Fund Prize (2009), a Jerwood Foundation Award (1998), the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize (1997), the first BBC Young Composer of the Year Prize (1993) as well as fellowships to both the Tanglewood and Aspen music festivals.
The subject of several recordings, his first full-length album, O Death (featuring the evening-long work of that name, performed by Ensemble Klang), was released in 2010 to great acclaim in the Dutch and US media. Other recent recordings include B&E (with aggravated assault) as performed by NEWSPEAK on New Amsterdam Records, Bird Forms on a Neutral Background on Karnatic Lab Records. A recording of his chamber concerto "Livre des Sauvages" is due to be released on Wergo Records in 2017.
Born in the UK, he studied with Simon Bainbridge at the Royal College of Music (London), with Louis Andriessen and Martijn Padding at the Royal Conservatorium of The Hague (The Netherlands), and was a Naumberg fellow at Princeton University where he completed his PhD in 2008 with Steve Mackey as his advisor.