Tawnie Olson

Born November 19, 1974

Born in Canada

The music of Canadian composer Tawnie Olson draws inspiration from politics, spirituality, the natural world, and the musicians for whom she composes. Winner of the 2018 Barlow Prize and the 2015 Iron Composer Competition, she has been Composer-in-Residence of the Women Composers Festival of Hartford, an American Composers Forum BandQuest Composer-in-Residence at E.C. Adams School in Guilford, Conn., and she received a Connecticut Artist Fellowship. Olson has received commissions from the Canadian Art Song Project, Third Practice/New Music USA, the Canada Council for the Arts, Mount Holyoke College/The Women’s Philharmonic, the Blue Water Chamber Orchestra, Ithaca College, the American Composers Forum, and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music’s Robert Baker Commissioning Fund, among others. Her music is performed on five continents and can be heard on many recordings.

In a recent American Composers Forum video, Olson shared this advice with students: “Composing is like anything else—it’s like playing your instrument, or cooking, or riding a bike. When you first start, it’s hard, and it doesn’t always look pretty. But if you keep at it, you’ll get better at it… Young composers should just write as much as they can, and then they should make friends with performers. If they already have friends who play music, they should write music for their friends and play together.”