Matthew J. Olson is Director of Choral Activities at Carleton College, Artistic & Managing Director of Bach Roots Festival (formerly Oratory), and Assistant Conductor of the professional choir, The Singers – MN Choral Artists. The Star Tribune called his performances of Bach’s B Minor Mass with Bach Roots Festival “masterful” and of St. John Passion with Minnesota Dance Theatre, they celebrated the “many strands of excellence…that came together in a gripping realization.” Recently, he guest conducted The Singers in performances of Joby Talbot’s 17-voice choral symphony, Path of Miracles; he also served as chorusmaster for The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s production of Bach’s St. John Passion for which the chorus was praised for being “scrupulously prepared” in a performance that was “one of the most satisfying you could ever hope to hear.” (Star Tribune)
As a conductor rooted in traditional repertoire, Matthew also passionately explores the bounds between classical and popular music. He presented the regional premier of Credo by indie-rocker composer Kjartan Sveisson of the band Sigur Ros. He has also shared the stage with songwriter Carrie Newcomer, bluegrass band Monroe Crossing, and was a featured artist on Minnesota Public Radio’s Work for Words live at the Fitzgerald Theater with Chris Koza, Rogue Valley, Your Smith, and members of the Doomtree hip-hop Collective.
As a choral composer and arranger, his works (published by Colla Voce & Santa Barbara) receive increasing performances throughout the U.S. and abroad. His first full-length cantata for choir, orchestra, and vocal soloists (titled Sola Fide) premiered in October of 2017 exploring themes of social equality and justice within the protestant reformation.
As a choral singer, Matthew has performed and recorded with ensembles including The St. Olaf Choir, The Carnegie Hall Festival Chorus, The Singers, Dale Warland and the Minnesota Beethoven Festival Chorale, The Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s (NYC).
As an arts administrator, he worked formerly for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra first as an intern in Development, and then as Assistant to then President, Bruce Coppock. As Artistic & Managing Director of Bach Roots Festival he led the doubling of the organization’s budget three years in a row.
He studied choral and orchestral conducting at St. Olaf College (B.A.), The Oregon Bach Festival, Michigan State University (M.M.), The Canford Conducting School (U.K.), and The University of Minnesota (D.M.A.) Matthew belongs to Beyond Artists, a coalition of artists that donates a percentage of their concert fees to non-profit organizations they care about. He proudly supports College Possible.