Professor of Music/Director of Bands/Department Chair
Dr. Rolf Olson is director of bands, professor of trumpet, and Chair of the music department at Northern, where he directs the wind ensemble and teaches conducting and applied trumpet. Olson previously taught at the University of South Dakota, Augustana College, and in the public schools of Arlington and Vermillion, South Dakota.
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. While an active adjudicator for all types of music festivals and competitions, he retired in 2019, after 20 years as 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).
Dr. Olson is an active trumpet player as a member of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, the Sioux Falls Big Band, the Northern Brass Quintet, 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.
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. Olson has also 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 earned the D.A. degree in trumpet performance and pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, a 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). He has been elected to Phi Beta Mu and Pi Kappa Lambda Honor Societies.