M.M. Jazz Studies and Piano Performance, Indiana University; B.M. Piano Performance with Organ Minor (Magna cum laude), Syracuse University
40+ years teaching, all ages
Eric Olsen has crafted a distinguished career in both classical and jazz music as a pianist and organist, composer, and conductor. His recordings include Dyad, a collaborative jazz/classical duet with alto saxophonist Louis Caimano, his most recent release, and Jazz Inspired Classics, featuring works by American composers including Copland, Schuller, Gould, and Nancarrow. As composer and leader of his long-standing jazz group Urban Survival, Eric released two CD’s, one with acclaimed tenor saxophonist George Garzone. He has also performed with guitarists Bucky Pizzarelli and Ed Cherry, sideman to Dizzy Gillespie. He has accompanied operatic bass Kevin Maynor on three recordings, the Grammy-nominated CD The Black Art Song, Jazz Hymns, and From Another American. Eric recently collaborated with Kevin Maynor and former New Jersey Poet Laureate Amiri Baraka on his multimedia work Sisyphus Syndrome, and on a performance of Dorothy Rudd Moore’s opera Frederick Douglas. As an accompanist, Olson has worked with the internationally renowned vocal studios of Betty Allen, Klara Barlow, Walter Cassel, Giorgio Tozzi, and Virginia Zeani. Eric has performed at Carnegie Hall, Birdland, and the Knitting Factory in New York and in India and New Zealand. Eric has been a featured soloist with the Livingston Symphony, the Central Jersey Symphony, and the Orchard Park Symphony and a featured jazz performer at the AT&T, Berk’s, and Asbury Park Jazz Festivals. He has given numerous classical and jazz piano recitals in the NY Metropolitan area. Currently Director of Music and Organist at the Union Congregational Church in Montclair, he has conducted Fauré’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Bush’s Christmas Cantata, Flagello’s The Passion of Martin Luther King, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio Part I, and Pärt’s Berlin Mass with members of the New Jersey Symphony. He has performed the first act of Wagner’s Die Walküre on piano and selections from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde on organ with his wife, Pamela Eric, an accomplished soprano. In addition to serving on the faculty of Wharton's Performing Arst School, Eric is an Adjunct Faculty member at Montclair State University. He holds two Master of Music degrees in Piano Performance and Jazz Studies from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Music degree with High Distinction in Piano and Organ Performance from Syracuse University.