Professor of Music/Director of Bands
Dr. Rolf Olson is director of bands, professor of trumpet, and chair of the music department at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Dr. Olson directs the Symphonic Band and teaches conducting. Previous to NSU, Olson taught at the University of South Dakota, Augustana College, and in the public schools of Arlington and Vermillion, S.D.
Dr. Olson is an active guest conductor, having directed the Dakota Wind Ensemble, Nebraska All State Bands, South Dakota Middle School All State Band, Northwest Iowa Honor Band, and numerous other band and jazz festivals in the Midwest. He serves as adjudicator for the South Dakota All State Band auditions and other regional music competitions. Dr. 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).
Awards received include the South Dakota Outstanding Bandmaster of the Year Award 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. Dr. Olson has been recognized by the National Federation of State High School Associations as the Outstanding Music Educator for South Dakota, and was nominated for the national award. He is one of only two inductees into the Vermillion High School Fine Arts Hall of Fame.
Dr. Olson is an active trumpet player as a member of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, the Sioux Falls Big Band, and the Dalesburg Cornet Band, of which he is cornet soloist and musical director. He has performed twice at International Trumpet Guild Conventions, and is a frequent soloist with high school bands. He has also played professionally with the Carson & Barnes Circus Band, Gene Pitney Orchestra, and Myron Floren.
Dr. Olson earned a 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), and South Dakota Alliance for the Arts (SDAA). He has been elected to Phi Beta Mu and Pi Kappa Lambda honor societies.