In this era of advanced technology, the one-man band has met its match. The O-1 Orchestra, a monstrous, custom-crafted organ/synthesizer, is the creation of Argentine musician Hector Olivera. When he brings "O-1" to the Capital Hilton Presidential Ballroom today at 3, his fingers and toes will be the individual musicians, his mind the conductor.
"My hands have to be everywhere at once," says Olivera. "Depending upon the score, my left pinky could be playing trombones, while the remaining fingers would probably be playing French horn on anather keyboard. My right hand thumb might be playing some woodwinds, and the others on the right hand will be violins and violas. The left foot could be pedaling tubas, cellos and contrabasses as the right foot hits one of the toe studs to create a crash symbol."
Born in Buenos Aires in 1946 and a church organist by the age of 5, Olivera's talents are renowned. He says his photographic memory enables him to involve himself with every facet of an orchestra at once. "All my memory goes through my eyes," says Olivera. "It becomes an emotional involvement, with the composition with the organ always secondary to the musical message."
Aware that one man's attempt to recreate the symphonic sounds of many is difficult at best, Olivera is nonetheless inspired by the challenge he has literally built for himself. "Let's face it," he says. "The orchestra is still the orchestra, and there is a human factor that is very hard to create with a machine. But I am doing what I always dreamed of -- conducting my own orchestra, creating my own human factor."