Professor of Music/Director of Bands
Rolf Olson, D.A., joined NSU in fall 2016. He is director of bands and professor of trumpet at Northern State University, where he directs the Symphonic Band and teaches conducting, brass methods, and studio trumpet. Previous to NSU, Olson taught at the University of South Dakota and Augustana College, and in the public schools of Arlington and Vermillion, S.D.
Olson is an active guest clinician/conductor, having directed the Dakota Wind Ensemble, Nebraska Class B and C all-state bands, South Dakota Middle School All State Band, Northwest Iowa Honor Band, and numerous other band and jazz festivals in South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa. He is active in the region as an adjudicator for all types of instrumental music competitions and is an adjudicator for the South Dakota All State Band auditions. Olson is co-founder of the South Dakota All State Jazz Festival and served for many years as treasurer for the South Dakota Unit of the International Association of Jazz Educators (IAJE).
Olson recently received the Outstanding Bandmaster of the Year Award in South Dakota and the Distinguished Service Award from the South Dakota High School Activities Association for the furtherance of high school activities while making significant contributions that have exemplified the highest ideals of service given to the association and to the youth of South Dakota. Recently, Olson was recognized by the National Federation of State High School Associations as the outstanding music educator for South Dakota, and nominated for the regional/national award. He also was the second inductee into the Vermillion High School Fine Arts Hall of Fame.
Olson is an active trumpet player, performing regularly with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, Sioux Falls Big Band, and Dalesburg Cornet Band, of which he is cornet soloist and musical director. He has performed solos with numerous high school bands and performed twice at International Trumpet Guild conventions. In 2003, Olson performed the South Dakota premier of Robert Bradshaw’s Sonata for Trumpet & Piano. He also has played professionally with the Carson & Barnes Circus Band, Gene Pitney Orchestra, and Myron Floren.
Olson earned the D. A. degree in trumpet performance and pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, an M.M. degree in trumpet performance from the University of South Dakota, and a B.M. degree in music education from Augustana College. He is a member of the South Dakota Bandmasters Association (SDBA), International Trumpet Guild (ITG), National Association for Music Education (NAfME), Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), South Dakota Alliance for the Arts (SDAA), and Vermillion Area Arts Council. He also has been elected to the Phi Beta Mu and Pi Kappa Lambda honor societies.