Alex Olson

Alex Olson
Music Performance Instructor

B.Mus. (Manhattan School of Music)

Area of expertise


Brief biography

Alex has been with the Victoria Symphony bass section since 1981. He is principal bassist with the Palm Court Orchestra, has performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Opera, Victoria Operatic Society, The Galiano Ensemble, Raven Baroque and is an active freelance musician in Victoria, B.C.

He began double bass studies with Paul Simons (then principal bassist of Victoria Symphony) followed by studies in Vancouver with Kenneth Friedmann who was then principal bassist of Vancouver Symphony. After a year with the Victoria Symphony in 1975-76 at age 21, he returned to Vancouver to continue studies with Mr. Friedmann at Vancouver Community College attaining a music performance diploma there. In 1979 he won both the Vancouver Symphony Women's Committee Scholarship Concerto Competition and the VCC Concerto Competition to perform Bottesini's Concerto No.1 with an orchestra made up of primarily Vancouver Symphony Orchestra members. Two years of study in New York City with Orin O'Brien (acting assistant-principal bassist, New York Philharmonic) completed a B.Mus. at Manhattan School of Music in 1981. Returning to Vancouver, he attended Capilano College for a jazz and commercial music diploma and studies with jazz bassist Tom Hazlitt.

Alex's main teachers Ken Friedmann and Orin O'Brien were both students of Fred Zimmermann of the "Prague School" of double bass playing at The Julliard School of Music and Paul Simons, his very first teacher, studied with Stuart Sankey also at Julliard.

Alex was teacher-assistant for prominent double bassist Joel Quarrington at the summer music camp "Courteney Youth Music Centre". He has participated in multiple years of Gary Karr's Karr Kamp double bass workshops and has recorded two CDs with Mr. Karr, Brown Soft Shoe and Bassically Baroque.

Double bass studies at UVic with Alex concentrate mainly on:

  1. Standard double bass solo literature, Bottesini, Koussevitzky, adaptations of Bach
  2. Orchestral excerpts
  3. works by modern composers of bass literature like Gavin Bryars, Nino Rota, forexample, may also explored. 
  4. Technical advancement by applied theoretical knowledge of chords, scales and rhythm.
  5. Published etudes and studies.