Guitarist John Olson pursues an eclectic life in music, science, and arts leadership. As a guitarist, he performs in several ensembles, including the Olson/De Cari Duo, the Contemporanea Guitar Duo, and the Brooklyn Guitar Quartet, and has served as section leader and soloist with the New York City Guitar Orchestra. He has released two CDs with the Olson/De Cari Duo: Quiet Songs, which contains baroque and twentieth-century music for solo guitar and guitar and voice, and Eve’s Diary, featuring new song cycles and arrangements written for the Duo by David Leisner, Frank Wallace, João Luiz, and Clarice Assad. He has studied guitar with David Leisner, Jon Harris and Neil Anderson, and organ and baroque performance practice with organists Rick Erickson, Rodney Gehrke, and Christian Lane. He has performed in guitar masterclasses with Ben Verdery, William Kanengiser, Raphaella Smits, and others.
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 150 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. Since 2013, John has directed the annual Ben Verdery Maui Guitar Class.
Also a respected scientist, John received his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has performed research for over 25 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.