Described as possessing "an unconventional lyricism and a menacing beauty" and a “unique voice”, British/American composer Oscar Bettison's 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.
Recent commissions have included major new works for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, MusikFabrik, So Percussion, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, the Roundhouse (London) and the Tonlagen Festival in Dresden (Germany).
He has been the recipient of a number of awards including of 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.
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 which was recently released on New Amsterdam Records.
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. He is on the composition faculty at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, where he has taught since 2009.