Are you a Badger fan? If so, you’ll want to read all about one of our newest faculty members, Darin Olson. Darin, who is now our Assistant Director of Bands, comes to us from Wichita Falls, Texas, where he was assistant band director at Rider High School and oversaw all percussion activities, assisted with the concert ensembles, co-directed the jazz band, and taught class piano. He has also held teaching engagements in Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota, and South Dakota.
Darin replaces Justin Stolarik, who left during the summer to take a tenure-track position as Director of Athletic Bands and Associate Director of Bands at the University of Oklahoma. Justin had worked at UW for four years.
Darin, who holds a DMA from Ohio State University as well as a master’s in music from the University of Missouri and a bachelor’s in music ed from South Dakota State University, is active in the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) and is a reviewer for Percussive Notes, the official publication of PAS.
We asked Darin a few questions to help us become better acquainted.
Where did you grow up, and were you involved with bands as a youngster? How so?
I grew up in Sioux Falls, SD. My interest in music was sparked at an early age watching my father play drum set in a country/western band. I eventually joined band as a percussionist in the 5th grade and never looked back.
Do you play instruments (I kind of assume so) and which are your favorites? Do you perform now?
One of the best parts of being a percussionist is that I do not have to pick a favorite! Any instrument or object that makes an inspiring sound could be my new favorite of that moment.
Yes, I still perform. Most recently I performed a series of concerts with Dr. Gregory Lyons, Assistant Band Director/Director of Percussion at Louisiana Tech University. Greg and I are both interested in multi-disciplinary collaboration. For these concerts we commissioned Matthew Bain, a layout artist for DreamWorks, to create a real-time, computer realization to accompany one of the works on our program. It turned out to be an audience favorite!
How long were you in Texas? Can you tell us a little about your family?
My family and I lived in Texas for two years. My wife, Samantha, is originally from Fort Worth and has a lot of family in that area. We both grew up in pet-friendly households and continue that tradition ourselves. We currently have two dogs and a cat. I keep reminding my wife that we have a full house, but she always wants to bring more home!
Had you ever seen the UW Marching Band before?
Yes, through televised events. I have always had a great deal of respect for the traditions of Big 10 marching bands. While pursuing my doctorate at Ohio State University I heard a lot about the unique aspects and approaches of all the bands in the conference.
What do you think you offer that will be of particular use to the program?
In addition to my work ethic and a positive attitude, I think I will offer an un-biased perspective on a lot of items. Since I have not been around the program, I will draw on my previous experiences to contribute to the program. Mike Leckrone has established a great deal of traditions and history with the band. I am very excited to be working with him!
What does Wisconsin offer that was attractive to you? Have you seen the team in the Rose Bowl? What other teams or ensembles will you direct?
I was attracted to Wisonsin for several reasons. The opportunity to work with highly respected and accomplished faculty members, the visible and active athletic band program, the energetic and driven students, and a wonderful city! I am a huge sports fan, so yes I have seen the team in the Rose Bowl.
I will be directing the University Band, Volleyball Band, and the Women’s Basketball Band.
What are you most excited about? Can we cop a few free Rose Bowl tickets from you?
To be very general, I am extremely excited to be here. I love teaching, so I am really excited for the year to begin! We have had some productive drumline clinics this summer, now I am ready for regular rehearsals.
As for the Rose Bowl tickets, we will have to see how the football team does!