March 21, 2003
James Olesen appeared as guest conductor on a Cantata Singers concert in 2003, when he led the first performance of Edward Cohen’s Invocation, for men’s chorus and piano.
He has been Director of Choruses at Brandeis University since 1972, where he has conducted music that has ranged from Stravinsky and Webern to Gershwin. Mr. Olesen sang as a professional chorister in New York City under conductors Leonard Bernstein, Charles Munch, Gustav Meier, Leopold Stokowski, Loren Maazel, Robert Shaw, William Steinberg, Lukas Foss and Michael Tilson Thomas, in performances with the New York Philharmonic, Robert Shaw Chorale, American Symphony Orchestra, The Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and Musica Aeterna. He recorded for Columbia, RCA, Decca, Composers Recording, Inc., and Nonesuch Records. He has also sung with Cantata Singers on several occasions.
Mr. Olesen has performed Schubert’s Die Winterreise and Die schöne Müllerin and Schumann’s Dichterliebe and Liederkreis, op. 39, with pianists Patricia Zander, Philip Moll, and Luise Vosgerchian. Mr. Olesen founded and conducts The Orpheus Singers, a chamber choir of skilled amateurs and professional singers that perform repertory from the 15th century to the present. He studied at the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan.