Guitarist John Olson pursues an eclectic life in music, science, and arts administration. As a guitarist, he performs in several ensembles, including the Olson/De Cari Duo, the Contemporanea Guitar Duo, and the Brooklyn Guitar Quartet. He has served as section leader and soloist with the New York City Guitar Orchestra. Committed to the generation of new music, John has commissioned over twenty new works. He has studied guitar with David Leisner, Jon Harris and Neil Anderson, and organ and baroque performance practice with organists Rick Erickson and Rodney Gehrke. He has performed in guitar masterclasses with Ben Verdery, William Kanengiser, Raphaella Smits, and others. He released a CD, Quiet Songs, with the Olson/De Cari Duo that contains baroque and twentieth-century music for solo guitar and guitar and voice. The Duo is currently at work on their second recording, featuring new song cycles and arrangements written for them by David Leisner, Frank Wallace, João Luiz, and Clarice Assad.
Since 2007, John has served as President of the New York City Classical Guitar Society. John has revitalized the organization and made it a thriving and central part of the city’s guitar community. The NYCCGS presents two dozen events each season; during his tenure John has produced over 120 concerts. The Society's programs include two concert series; a highly-regarded monthly series of educational presentations; and the New York City Guitar Orchestra, a community ensemble with professional leadership and an ambitious commissioning project. The NYCCGS is recognized nationally and internationally for its important programming: Martha Masters, President of the Guitar Foundation of America, described it as “one of the strongest guitar societies in the U.S.” and the U.K.’s Classical Guitar magazine stated that John has “over the years built a distinguished reputation as a guitar promoter.” Since 2014, John has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Guitar Foundation of America, the largest organization in the United States devoted to the classical guitar, presenting an annual convention and competition, sponsoring a series of regional symposiums, and publishing Soundboard magazine. John has organized a series of Guitar Society Summits for leaders of similar organizations, and has led panel discussions on arts administration and career management at the GFA Convention and the Yale Guitar Extravaganza.
Also a respected scientist, John received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has performed research for over twenty years in academic and industrial settings. He is dedicated to bridging the worlds of science and music through his Science/Music Commissioning Project, which seeks to expand the repertoire for guitar and voice and explore connections between science and music through song.
Photo: Merri Cyr