Kenneth Olsen joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as assistant principal cello in 2005.
He is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and a winner of the school’s prestigious concerto competition. His other awards include first prize in the Nakamichi Cello Competition at the Aspen Music Festival and second prize in the 2002 Holland-America Music Society Competition. His teachers have included Richard Aaron at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Joel Krosnick at the Juilliard School of Music, and Luis Garcia-Renart at Bard College. He also has been a participant at the Steans Institute for Young Artists (the Ravinia Festival’s professional studies program for young musicians) and at Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute.
A native of New York, Kenneth Olsen is a founding member of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, a conductorless string orchestra comprised of young musicians from orchestras and ensembles all over the country. He also is a member of the Chicago-based Civitas Ensemble. Founded in 2011, Civitas is a chamber-music ensemble with a threefold mission: to present engaging live performances of new and traditional works, to inspire a young generation of classical musicians, and to bring the healing power of music to those with limited access to live performances. The members of the group are artists-in-residence at Valparaiso University.
Olsen first performed as a soloist with the CSO in October 2008 in Golijov's Mariel for Cello and Orchestra conducted by Miguel-Harth Bedoya. His most recent solo performance was Brahms' Double Concerto with CSO Associate Concertmaster Stephanie Jeong and Riccardo Muti conducting in November 2019.