Home » Jazz Articles » Take Five With Pianist Olivia Perez-Collellmir


Take Five With...

Take Five With Pianist Olivia Perez-Collellmir

Take Five With Pianist Olivia Perez-Collellmir

Sign in to view read count

Meet Olivia Perez-Collellmir

Olivia Pérez-Collellmir is a solo pianist, composer and music director from Barcelona, Spain. Currently, Olivia is a member of the faculty in the Berklee piano department. As a tribute to her heritage, she incentivized the formation of the first Berklee Contemporary Spanish Music and Flamenco Jazz Ensemble. As a performer, Olivia has performance residencies at The Beehive, the Beat Hotel, La Fábrica Central and performs at many other venues in the US and internationally: El Gran Teatre del Liceu and Teatre Nacional de Catalunya in Barcelona; SOB's in New York City; Regattabar, Ryles, Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Agganis Arena in Boston, among others. Olivia recently released her debut album Olivia (Adhyaropa Records).



Teachers and/or influences?

Mompou, was one of the first musicians I discovered when I was a child. My teacher Núria Bonells (main disciple of Alicia de Larrocha) was her friend. So I grew up musically listening to Mompou's music, performed by the composer's own entourage. I think I even met him, but I can't remember... I was very little. Also Antoni Besses (disciple of Alberto Ginastera and Olivier Messiaen) was my piano teacher later on and he was from the Mompou's circle as well. The first album I bought that wasn't pop-rock...was Mompou's. It was the entirety of his work for piano, performed by maestro Josep Maria Colom (I studied with him as well at the Foundation Hindemith stages in Switzerland).

Mompou's music represents home, roots, identity, and my most personal voice...my most Mediterranean and Catalan personality. It was clear that in my first album, Olivia, I wanted to pay tribute to him.

Ravel, is other of my favorite composers and means a lot to me. I studied and performed Ravel with Stephany Tiernan, my teacher and chair of the piano department at Berklee. His piano compositions fascinate me for their beauty, for their nuance, for the harmonious language and for the texture and at the same time, for the freedom his music leaves to the forms of contemporary improvisation.

Other main musical influences are flamenco music, Latin jazz, jazz, Spanish folk traditions, classical western music and the Catalan sounds of my hometown, Barcelona.

I have studied jazz with Tim Ray, Rebecca Cline, Kevin Harris, Tony Germain, JoAnne Brackeen and Ed Tomassi, among others.

As a composer, my mentors are Marti Epstein and Osvaldo Golijov.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

Well, to begin with, I can't imagine life without music. Art in general and music in particular, for me, are the most direct and connected form of expression of the human soul. I express myself better with music than with words... at least my emotions and feelings. When I perform and when I compose, I connect directly with my soul, with my intellect, with my emotions. For me, music is my natural language. I need it to breathe, to live, to be happy—it's like my DNA.

I started studying music when I was just 4 years old. It's something that's been part of me for almost as long as I can remember. The passion started from the first moment. It's my identity.

Your sound and approach to music

My identity, my voice and my language as an artist are on this album Olivia.

This album is the story and the sound of a journey. The realization of a dream, the achievement of 10 years since I began my journey in the USA, a journey of great dedication, sacrifice and renunciation dedicated completely to playing, acting, studying, researching, composing and educating, the realization of a path of personal search and the result of the creative path of a lifetime.

When I presented my musical project to the producer of the album, Gonzalo Grau, I asked him: "what line are we going to take... more classical... more jazz... more flamenco" because all those backgrounds, training, sounds, personalities were in me. He answered me, all "because you are all those things... your identity is that you have all those languages. I don't want to leave anything out. The way we are going to do it is to connect it and that is how the ideas of the "Promenades" came. I composed the "Promenades" as "connecting vestibules between those chapters of a journey... "like a vestibule that connects the different rooms of a museum."

The Promenades are short pieces-interludes that take you from one chapter to another of this journey, from one modality-tonality to another, from one character to another, from one style to another, from one energy to another, from one tempo to another , from one landscape of the journey to another, connect and transit the stages of the journey, and the different soundscapes and in turn they take you through an inner world of sensations and moods, like the emotions of the human soul.

My album Olivia is a nuanced and diverse collection of my own musical interests, exploring the marriage of flamenco music and Latin jazz with Spanish folk traditions and classical music, creating a universal sound with no musical boundaries.

I grew up amongst the sounds of flamenco, along with my studies as a classical concerto pianist (in the Conservatori Superior of Barcelona) and this identity can be heard in the album, this life-long passion for the fusion of musical styles, including jazz. With Olivia I stay true to the Spanish influences that have shaped my artistic sound and identity as a musician; the recording also makes some exotic escapes to India and the Middle East.

Produced by Grammy nominee Gonzalo Grau and recorded in 2021-22, the selections being released include a handful of original songs, and arrangements of pieces by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) and Frederic Mompou (1893-1987), one of the most universal Catalan composers.

Your teaching approach

Be the best that you can be, develop all your potential and search and explore your own and unique voice as a musician.

All of this is possible with a very personalized teaching approach, since every student has a unique background and unique combination of skills and talent and they have such different motivations or goals... help them find their own and unique voice supported by their unique skills but also making sure that the ones who don't feel as confident, they can train, and develop as well.

Music You Are Listening To Now:

Past, Present & Futures by Chick Corea New Trio
Borrowed Roses and Inner Voyage by Gonzalo Rubalcaba
Voyager and Bembé by Ivan Melón
Osvaldo's Golijov compositions "La pasión según San Marcos" "Ainadamar" "Oceana" "Falling Out of Time"
Bach's Cantatas and Partitas
Maurizio Pollini recordings
"Requiem" by Mozart and "Requiem" by Faure
Winton Kelly Kelly Blue
Oscar Peterson We get requests
Paco de Lucia Cositas Buenas
Diego Guerrero Por la tangente

Chick Corea's CDs and Bill Evans' CDs are always with me

If I Weren't A Jazz Musician, I Would Be A...


Nature is my natural habitat. I need to be outdoors and connected with nature. I am a former professional skier and a great swimmer. I am fascinated by water and mountain sports.

What is in the near future?

We just released my debut album Olivia at DROM in New York City and we will celebrate it as well in the city of Boston on March 12th at David Friend Recital Hall. We are working on a tour for this Summer 2024 that will bring the live concert of the album, to Europe and to the United States.

I'm the director of the Spanish and Flamenco music ensemble at Berklee College of Music in Boston and we have a big show coming up on March 2024, with special guest Judit Neddermann.

I am working with one of the most important orchestras in the world, composing a full symphonic orchestral piece. More details will be announced soon...

Post a comment

For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.



Jazz article: Meet Tubist Jim Shearer
Take Five With...
Meet Tubist Jim Shearer
Jazz article: Take Five With Pianist Olivia Perez-Collellmir
Jazz article: Take Five With Bassist / Composer Jakob Dreyer


Read The Ten Best  Jazz Christmas Albums Of All Time
Read Giving Thanks & Sharing the Jazz Love
Read Record Store Day Black Friday 2023: Jazz Releases
Read The Most Exciting Jazz albums since 1969: 2006-2009

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.