Janelle Olson, a Wichitan since 2007, plays piccolo with the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra. She also regularly plays flute and piccolo with the Plano and Irving Symphonies and freelances in the Dallas area. In addition, she teaches private lessons.
Janelle’s two sons, Dag Marius and Matthew, attend Christ Academy. They also have two cats, Big and Little Kitty.
Her first experience playing with the WFSO was as a substitute for the Christmas Concert in 2008. Living in Norway when she learned she would be moving to Wichita Falls, Janelle did her research and was thrilled to see that the community supported a symphony, so she wrote to the Conductor and the Flute Section that she would be available for subbing “anytime they needed” her. She became a more regular WFSO member playing piccolo beginning in 2013.
Being from a musical family, Janelle grew up with music—going to sleep to the sounds of her parents practicing for their next recital or performance. Her father, now 95, was a clarinetist and University Professor of Music and Band Conductor. Her mother, now 88, was a brilliant pianist—particularly convenient because that gave Janelle the “luxury of a built-in accompanist.” Her parents recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary, and Janelle says she “can’t imagine growing up in a better musical home.”
She does, however, remember as a teenager allowing her musical tastes to “expand/explore” leading to her father’s walking into her room, turning off the radio, and saying, “That’s not music!” She admits that she now finds herself wanting to do the same thing with her own kids.
Janelle earned her Bachelors in Music from California State University Long Beach and attended New England Conservatory for her Masters in Flute Performance under the tutelage of Paula Robison. She played in the New World Symphony before becoming Principal Flute of the Tucson Symphony.
Among her vivid musical memories is the experience in 2000 playing “Suite Antique” for Flute and Orchestra by
John Rutter with Rutter conducting—in Carnegie Hall. She says walking out on that stage for rehearsal, she could imagine the great tradition of music and musicians who had had the privilege of performing there.
Surpassing that, however, was a performance in Soweto, South Africa, for an audience who had never seen or heard an orchestra instrument. After the orchestra had finished playing their “sophisticated Haydn and Mozart,” the congregation sang for the orchestra. Janelle recalls, “All ages, 2-99, got up and sang traditional praise melodies in the most heavenly, rich, 8-part harmony I have ever heard, complete with motion and rhythm.” She adds there was not a dry eye in the orchestra, and she remembers this as a “most-meaningful musical exchange.”
While it is difficult to pinpoint favorites, Janelle reports that she grew up with the sound of James Galway in her ear. She thinks he had the purest, most beautiful flute tone she has ever heard—and she always wants to emulate him. Classical music is, by far, her favorite music, but she likes most genres. She loves to play Brahms because to her Brahms is a perfect balance of color, power, and melodic beauty.
In addition to music, Janelle loves traveling. Music has given her the opportunity to see many places and cultures while doing what she loves. Her “happy place” is being in the mountains, hiking and camping with family and friends.
Make it a point to look for Janelle at our next Concert.
article courtesy of the Wichita Falls Symphony League
Kristen Van Cleve, Concert master
Becky Rathbun- Principal 2nd, *
Doreida Aleksi *
Jenny Sweetman, Principal
Gina Menden *
Dwight Anderson, Principal
Mike Lelevich, Principal
Tony Rosario *
Pam Youngblood *
Ken Krause, Principal
Sharon Deuby *
Rebecca Wenck *
Charlie Hall, Principal
Luke Varland, *
James Sims, Principal
Barbara Biggers, Principal
Laura Brandenburg, *
James Hobbs, Principal
Bill Scharnberg, Principal
Jonathan Gill, Principal
Gordon Hicken *