Matthew J. Olson is Artistic & Managing Director of Bach Roots Festival (formerly Oratory), Director of Choral Activities at Carleton College, and Assistant Conductor of The Singers – MN Choral Artists. The Star Tribune called performances of Bach’s B Minor Mass with Bach Roots Festival “masterful” and of St. John Passion, 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)


Matthew's studies of Bach began with Helmuth Rilling first as a chorister in the Carnegie Hall Festival Chorus and then as a conducting student at the Oregon Bach Festival. Additional studies include observations with Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and Chorus in Perigueux, France, as well as doctoral studies with Kathy Romey.


As a conductor rooted in Baroque and Classical repertoire, he is also passionate about exploring the bounds between classical and popular music. Recent concerts included Sojornfeaturing music of indie-rocker composer Kjartan Sveinsson of Sigur Rosfame, performances with bluegrass band Monroe Crossing and songwriter Carrie Newcomer, and Minnesota Public Radio’s Work for Words live at the Fitzgerald Theater with Chris Koza. 


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 that fueled 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, Matthew worked formerly for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra first as an intern in Development, and then as Assistant to then President, Bruce Coppock. 


Matthew studied choral and orchestral conducting at St. Olaf College, The Oregon Bach Festival, Michigan State University, The Canford Conducting School (U.K.), and The University of Minnesota. 

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This activity is funded, in part, by an appropriation from the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the State’s general fund.

© 2020 Bach Roots Festival

All Photographs © Olson's Photography