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Local composer commissioned by the Royal Conservatory of Music

A woman playing the piano
Jordan Whitfield
A woman playing the piano

Pianist and composer Kevin Olson plays everything from Mozart to Lizzo. Having worked with organizations like the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra and the ever-popular Piano Guys, Olson knows how to entertain and has the pedagogical skills to back it up.

“I've always been a composer and written things for orchestra, choir, other things like that. But getting into the educational piano world has been really fun,” Olson said

He was recently commissioned by the Royal Conservatory of Music to compose five pieces for the sixth edition of their Celebration Series. The Royal Conservatory of Music is an education organization that designs curriculums meant to train the next generation of great musicians.

“They've picked up a little bit more of the elementary-level pieces. So when you're writing for elementary level, title is really important, sometimes there’s lyrics,” Olson said.

Olson doesn’t just write music for beginning piano students. As the coordinator for Utah State University’s piano program, he also oversees the USU Youth Conservatory, a program through which around 100 students receive pre-college training.

“I jumped at the opportunity and so it's been really fun to put on events and get these kids excited.”

The biggest challenge they face is keeping kids engaged in piano, even when they aren’t excited about playing.

“I think it's important that they first just have music that they enjoy, and they can get excited about learning. I know that the most important thing is to keep the kids in piano. And really, piano is a great instrument to teach because you can usually find really well-arranged pieces at almost every level of whatever kids want to play," he said.

The Royal Conservatory of Music provides engaging music from the elementary level to adult certifications. Regardless of age or experience, their programs, including Olson’s newly commissioned pieces, work to engage students in rigorous coursework to achieve the high standards their programs require.

Anna grew up begging her mom to play music instead of public radio over the car stereo on the way to school. Now, she loves radio and the power of storytelling through sound. While she is happy to report on anything from dance concerts to laughter practice, her main focus at UPR is political reporting. She is studying Journalism and Political Science at Utah State University and wants to work in political communication after she graduates. In her free time, she spends time with her rescue dog Quigley and enjoys rock climbing.