National Lutheran News

Bob Olsen to take the helm of Lutheran Music Program

Bob Olsen, new executive director of Lutheran Music Program, is enthusiastic about young people and music. Metro Lutheran photo: Bob Hulteen

The Lutheran Music Program, best known for its annual month-long Lutheran Summer Music Academy & Festival, has announced that Bob Olsen, a music education graduate of St. Olaf College, has been named executive director. Olsen succeeds Beth Burns, who left the program after the 2013 Festival at Luther College in June.

Olsen began his professional career as a public school band instructor. Following that, he began a long career in nonprofit finance, development, and leadership. He most recently served as executive director at COMPAS, a Minnesota-based nonprofit arts-in-education service organization.

He has remained closely connected to music throughout his career as a private horn teacher and by re-establishing the Twin Cities Horn Club.

Olsen knows the impact of summer music camps, having participated in various Minnesota music camps as a young person. “I always appreciated that deep immersion in the summer,” he told Metro Lutheran. “I found it critical to my development as a musician.” He also found music camp settings — even secular ones — to be deeply moving spiritually. “I associated fine musicianship with an understanding of faith.”

Olsen believes that the current economic reality of many schools only underscores the need for such a summer program. “When the dollars get tight, the creative realm is often the first cut.”

Olsen is excited to get to work. “We are at a dynamic time in our culture where we have many uncertainties and many new opportunities affecting the arts, and specifically music,” he says. “I am excited to see what we can do.”

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