Tim Olsen is active as composer, performer, and educator. Born in 1961 in St. Paul, Minnesota, his early training involved playing trumpet in marching, concert, and jazz bands. Olsen began writing and arranging for these groups and picked up piano by ear.
He went on to earn a Bachelor of Music (summa cum laude) in music theory and composition from Washington University in St. Louis (1983), a Master of Arts in music theory and composition from the University of Minnesota (1985), and Master of Music (1988), Master of Musical Arts (1989), and Doctor of Musical Arts (1995) in composition from Yale University. As a Fulbright Scholar in 1990-91, Olsen studied with composer Ib Nørholm at the Royal Danish Conservatory of Music in Copenhagen.
Olsen joined the faculty of Union College in Schenectady, New York in 1994. He is currently Associate Professor of Music and has previously served as Chair of the Music Department and Director of the Africana Studies program. He teaches courses in the music and culture of the United States, Latin America, and Africa; music theory; and jazz improvisation. Olsen is also director of the Union College Jazz Ensemble.
As a jazz pianist and trumpeter, Olsen has played in concert, club, and private venues throughout the United States and in Denmark. The Tim Olsen Band varies in size from a quartet to an 18-piece big band. He also regularly plays piano with the Albany-based Joey Thomas Big Band, for whom he has produced over 50 arrangements and original compositions