Steve Olson, a native of Belt, Montana, holds a Bachelor of Music Performance-Piano and a Bachelor of Music Education from the University of Montana. Steve studied under the direction of Prof. Steve Hesla, Dr. Margaret Baldridge, Prof. Fern Glass, and Dr. Luis Millan. While in college, Steve became a violinist with the Helena Symphony, Glacier Symphony, Great Falls Symphony, and Missoula Symphony, and also sang in the Missoula Symphony Chorale. Steve also participated in numerous chamber ensembles at the University, playing both piano and violin.
In August 2010, Steve moved to Great Falls and began student teaching with Ruth Johnson and Linda Lydiard. After graduating, Steve worked as a substitute teacher in Great Falls and began playing with the Billings Symphony. He also dabbled in creating music arrangements and original compositions. In June 2012, Steve was hired as the new orchestra director of Charles M. Russell High School in Great Falls and is now in his fourth year of teaching.
In August 2012, Steve founded The Big Sky Telemann Players, a local Great Falls baroque music ensemble. The ensemble has produced four successful summer festivals and two baroque Christmas concerts, totaling twelve performances of non-repeated repertoire. Steve currently serves as music director and conductor for the Players, where he conducts the orchestra from the concertmaster chair.
Steve also works as a freelance collaborative pianist, and often performs with guest soloists performing with Montana symphonies. Steve has presented duo recitals with Ovidiuo Marinescu (West Chester University, cello professor), Stephan Cepeda (Helena Symphony, concertmaster), David Halen (St. Louis Symphony, concertmaster), and Sooyun Kim (Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center). Steve has also performed as a collaborative artist in masterclasses with Rachel Barton Pine and Amit Peled, and as a solo pianist with Stewart Goodyear.
During the summer of 2015, at the behest of close friend and colleague, Joel Corda, Steve embarked upon and completed on a monumental endeavor – writing a Christmas album of all-new original arrangements to be recorded and produced for the 2015 Christmas season. The album includes twelve all-new, from scratch, arrangements of Christmas favorites like Do You Hear What I Hear?, O Holy Night, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, O Come All Ye Faithful, and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. The album also includes one original transcription of Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride, and Steve’s first original composition, Snow Day!. Arrangements include full orchestra, string orchestra, piano trio, string quartet, woodwind choir, and percussion ensemble. The album features Joel Corda as vocal soloist, and a 47-piece orchestra of all local Great Falls musicians.
An avid performer, Steve also enjoys musical theater. In the summer of 2004, Steve worked as rehearsal accompanist on his first show, Footloose. That same summer he played violin for I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. The next year he played violin for Two by Two, and at the end of his senior year of high school, Steve was the rehearsal accompanist and played violin in the pit for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (2006). During college, Steve played in the orchestra pits for Into the Woods and Peter Pan (2010), and also served as concertmaster for a run of Puccini’s Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi (2008). After moving to Great Falls, Steve’s musical theatre experience greatly expanded when he served as rehearsal accompanist, lead keyboardist, and orchestra director of The Wiz (July 2012). He then played lead keyboard for both CMR’s production of The 1940’s Radio Hour (December 2012), and Great Falls High School’s production of Footloose (November 2013).
In June 2014, Steve was the rehearsal accompanist, vocal director and orchestra director for a production of The Sound of Music, where he worked closely with the show’s director, Joel Corda. Two months later he did the same jobs for a production of The Wizard of Oz-RSC. In December 2014, Steve was keyboardist and directed the orchestra for CMR’s production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. He is currently working as rehearsal accompanist, vocal director, and orchestra director for a December 2015 production Irving Berlin’s White Christmas with Miss Linda’s Act I Theatre Company, a branch of Miss Linda’s School of Dance in downtown Great Falls.
A champion of youth arts education, Steve co-directs Miss Linda’s Musical Theatre I & II classes on Monday evenings and also serves as their accompanist. Last year, the company produced Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Jr., and this year they are working on Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Jr. Steve is also the music director for Miss Linda’s Ballet Ensemble, where he directs a student-centered music ensemble for accompanying live ballet.