Nathan Olson, co-concert master with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, is one of the top young violinists in the U.S., and he is scheduled to perform at the University of Idaho during the third annual Bach Festival this weekend.
The 2013 Bach Festival starts with a lunchtime concert Friday and goes through Saturday evening.
The festival performances will feature UI faculty, professional musicians from the area and top music undergraduates from the UI Lionel Hampton School of Music, and honors students from the Lionel Hampton School of Music Preparatory Division.
The purpose of the event is to celebrate the work of Johann Sebastian Bach.
“Bach has such a huge following all over the world,” said Miranda Wilson, assistant professor of cello, and double bass and co-artistic director of the Bach Festival. “His music has universal popular appeal. Our guest violinist, Nathan Olson, will be performing his “Violin Concerto in E Major.” It is similar to “Four Seasons,” very exciting and energizing.”
Wilson said part of what makes the Bach Festival so important is how influential Bach was as a human being.
From the origin of the festival in 2011, UI has worked to celebrate Bach by having students, faculty and community members play together.
“What we’re trying to do is show the University of Idaho as a center for excellence in classical music,” Wilson said. “We’re already seen as a center for jazz, our goal was just to bring the best and brightest of Idaho’s classical musicians on stage, and everyone raises their voices and their instruments, and we blow the roof off.”
Michael Murphy, director of choral activities, founded the Bach festival. Last year, he invited Wilson to come aboard
with him as co-artistic director. Murphy also conducts a few of the concerts in the Bach festival every year.
“For me, the most exciting part is the collaborative experience with our school of music faculty,” Murphy said. “As well as the experience our students get with the opportunity to play with this year’s Bach scholar. It’s a collaborative experience for all parties, and it makes it a special festival.”
Steadily gaining nationwide recognition, Olson has received awards for his work, including the silver medal at the 2005 Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition. He has also performed as a soloist in symphony orchestras across the country, including the Canton Symphony Orchestra, the Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra and the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra.
“I have high hopes for this year already,” Wilson said. “The students are all hopped up for performing in this. Nathan is a big deal, he is a brilliant player and he’s not much older than most of the students, so that acts as an inspiration to everyone who sees him. He really is kind of a hot shot.”
The first concert of the 2013 Bach Festival is a performance by UI students on Friday morning in the Idaho Commons.
“I would love for students to give it a chance,” Wilson said. “I think a lot of them would be pleasantly surprised. If you haven’t been to a classical concert before, you may be under the impression that everyone is very elitist, and there are so many rules you have to follow, and I can see how people would be intimidated — but none of that is true. Students get the opportunity to see a famous violinist, in Nathan Olson, and hear a wide variety of pieces for free. It’s something worth going to.”
Erin Bamer can be reached at email@example.com