OFA News: Yosvany Terry appointed Director of Jazz Ensembles and Visiting Senior Lecturer on Music at Harvard University; Mark Olson appointed Director of Harvard’s Band and Wind Ensemble.
Yosvany Terry, the Grammy Award-nominated saxophonist, percussionist, composer and educator, has been appointed Director of Jazz Ensembles and Visiting Senior Lecturer on Music at Harvard University for the 2015-16 academic year, effective July 1. In this new joint position of the Department of Music and the Office for the Arts at Harvard (OFA), Terry will oversee the OFA’s Jazz Program consisting of two student big bands, and teach one foundational course in theory and improvisation (or a related topic) per semester in the Department of Music.
Mark Olson, the OFA’s Interim Director of Bands and an Associate of the Department of Music who has served with distinction overseeing the Harvard Band, Wind Ensemble and Jazz Bands since 2013, has been promoted to Director of Harvard University Band and Wind Ensemble. Both Terry and Olson’s appointments follow the retirement two years ago of Tom Everett, Director of Bands for 42 years who also served as an Associate of the Department of Music, Lecturer on Afro-American Studies and on Music, and Jazz Advisor to the OFA, and brought the first jazz visiting artists to the University.
Since his arrival in New York in 1999, Cuban saxophonist/percussionist/composer Yosvany Terry has been making a difference in contemporary music. His innovative work, a unique confluence of Cuban roots music and jazz, “has helped redefine Latin jazz as a complex new idiom” (The New York Times).
Terry is an internationally acclaimed Cuban musician, American composer, saxophonist, percussionist, bandleader, educator and cultural bearer of the Afro-Cuban tradition. Born into a musical family in Camaguey, Cuba, he went on to classical music training in Havana at the prestigious National School of Arts (ENA) and Amadeo Roldan Conservatory. After graduating, Terry worked with major figures in every realm of Cuban music including pianists Chucho Valdes, Frank Emilio, and the celebrated nueva trova singer/guitarist Silvio Rodriguez. From his earliest days in New York, he has been welcomed by the jazz and contemporary music community, playing with Branford Marsalis, Rufus Reid, Dave Douglas, Steve Coleman, Roy Hargrove, Henry Threadgill, Avishai Cohen, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Taj Mahal and Eddie Palmieri Afro-Caribbean Sextet.
Terry’s latest release, the GRAMMY Award-nominated New Throned King (5Passion, 2014), features music based on Arará cantos and rhythms and has been called the “musical culmination of his spiritual exploration” (All About Jazz). His previous album, Today’s Opinion (Criss Cross, 2012), was selected as one of the Top 10 Albums of the Year by The New York Times’ Nate Chinen. In 2015, Terry was named a recipient of the prestigious Doris Duke Artist Award. He has received recent commissions by the Yerba Buena Garden Festival (Noches de Parranda for 12-piece ensemble with the support of The MAP Fund), the French-American Jazz Exchange (Ancestral Memories with pianist Baptiste Trotignon and support from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation), and the Harlem Stage (the score for the opera Makandal, premiering in 2015). Terry received a grant from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and New York State Music Fund to create Afro-Cuban Roots: Yedégbé, a suite of Arará music. His latest project, The Bohemian Trio, is a genre-defying contemporary music ensemble based in New York that will release its first album in fall 2015.
Before assuming the position of Interim Director of Bands, Mark Olson was appointed Assistant Director of Bands in 2003, conducting both the Harvard Wind Ensemble and Sunday Jazz Band and serving as advisor to the Harvard University Band. Under his direction, the Harvard Wind Ensemble has premiered Big Bertha by Libby Larsen and Cumba Cumbakín by Tania León, both commissioned for the Harvard Wind Ensemble, and the Sunday Jazz Band has premiered arrangements of the music of Jim Hall, Tadd Dameron, Hank Jones, James Moody and Lee Morgan. Olson has served as Interim Conductor of the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra, Guest Conductor of the Metropolitan Wind Symphony, and is currently Director of the Middlesex Concert Band. He received degrees from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota and the University of Minnesota.
As a trumpeter Olson has performed solo with the Metropolitan Wind Symphony and the Middlesex Concert Band. He serves as principal trumpet of the Metropolitan Wind Symphony and is a member of New Sousa Band. He was a member of the Austin Minnesota Orchestra and performed with the Rochester (Minnesota) Orchestra, and plays with various brass ensembles throughout the year. He has studied trumpet with David Baldwin, Gary Bordner and Robert J. Hanson.