BSU Music Professor Records Album with Venezuelan Pianist and Conductor

Bemidji, Minn. – Assistant Professor of Music Dr. Jennifer Olson, has received $3000 from a Minnesota State Arts grant to record an album of Latin American songs with Venezuelan pianist and conductor Dr. Ana Maria Otamendi.

The grant is given to help Minnesota artists to help maintain their financial sustainability by using their creativity and connection to their community to create and maintain their art.

The album, “Cantos y Cuentos,” which translates to “Songs and Tales”, features Venezuelan pianist and conductor Dr. Ana Maria Otamendi, assistant professor of collaborative piano at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and marks the second collaboration between Olson and Otamendi. In 2016 the duo collaborated to record a CD of rarely performed South American art song styles after Otamendi held a week-long residency at Bemidji State in 2015.

“We were able to record music from Columbia, Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil. It was challenging and rewarding linguistically as we tried to remain true to the varying accents and dialects from those four countries,” Olson said. “We wanted to highlight Latin American repertoire in vocal chamber music because it is underrepresented in this country.”

The new compilation features an eclectic variety of music inspired by European, Indigenous and African cultures, Olson said.

“The music is charming and beautiful and heavily influenced by dance rhythms which makes it so much fun to perform! It’s a melting pot of so many cultures,” Olson said.

Olson has performed in numerous productions throughout her career as a vocalist. A soprano, she has had solos in Oratorio Society of Minnesota’s production of Honegger’s “King David”, Bemidji Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Mozart’s “Requiem” and performed in the U.S. premiere of Patrick Hawes “The Great War Symphony.”




Bemidji State University, located amid the lakes and forests of northern Minnesota, occupies a wooded campus along the shore of Lake Bemidji. Enrolling around 5,000 students, Bemidji State offers 70 undergraduate areas of study and eight graduate degrees encompassing arts, sciences and select pre-professional programs. At Bemidji State University, we educate people to lead inspired lives. BSU’s Shared Fundamental Values include civic engagement and leadership, international and multicultural understanding, belief in the power of liberal arts, and environmental stewardship. BSU is a Minnesota State university. For more, visit or find us at BemidjiState on your favorite social media networks.