Professor Emeritus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan where he was Professor of Trombone and Associate Dean of the College of Music.
Professor Olson graduated from Grove City Public School in Grove City, Minnesota and attended Bemidji State University for his undergraduate degree in Music Education studying trombone with Thomas Swanson. He taught instrumental music in the Motley Public school system for one year and then attended the Eastman School of Music where he completed a Master’s degree in Trombone Performance and Literature and coursework for the Doctoral of Musical Arts Degree with Donald Knaub as his primary teacher . He studied additionally with Edward Kleinhammer, bass trombonist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Frank Crisafulli, second trombonist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Henry Charles Smith, Principle Trombonist of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Associate Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra. In 1976, he joined the faculty of the School of Music at Michigan State University teaching trombone and directing the Trombone Choir. He taught trombone until 2001 when he was appointed Associate Dean of the College of Music. He retired from MSU in 2013 and moved to the Bemidji area with his wife Judy.
He has performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rochester (New York) Philharmonic Orchestra, the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Symphony, the Eastman Wind Ensemble, the Brass Band of Battle Creek, and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra and as soloist with the United State Air Force Band and the United States Navy Band. Conductors with whom he has performed include, among others; Herbert Bloomstedt, Neemi Jarvi, Michael Tilson Thomas, Pierre Boulez, Howard Hanson, Sir Ivan Fischer, Mitch Miller, Gustav Meier, Donald Hunsberger, William Revelli, Keith Bryon, Colonel Arnold Gabriel, Donald Johannos, and Krzystzof Penderecki .
Awards he has received include the 2002 Neill Humfeld Award for Excellence in Trombone Teaching from the International Trombone Association, the 2002 Outstanding Alumni Award from Bemidji State University, the 1998 Paul Varg Award for Excellence in Teaching from the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University, the 1975 Performer’s Certificate in Trombone from the Eastman School of Music, and as Associate Dean of the College of Music he received the 2003 Boss of the Year Award from the Business Women’s Association at Michigan State University and the 2005 Supervisor of the Year from the Human Resources division of Michigan State University.
He served on the faculty of the 1985 International Trombone Workshop in Nashville, Tennessee and the 1994 International Trombone Festival in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the 1990 Eastern Trombone Festival in Washington, DC, and was guest artist and clinician at several Midwest Trombone Conferences. He was also faculty of the 1992 and 1996 Curso Internacional de Verao in Brasilia, Brasil, a two-week international music festival of students from South America. He was also guest artist of the 2002 and 2010 national meetings of the Brasilian Trombonist Association in Brasilia, Brasil.
Olson has been guest soloist and clinician at most major universities and conservatories in the US.
As a composer, Olson has written and published several works for low brass instruments with synthesizer and also for trombone with piano.