About Me


Nicholas Olsen (b.1995) is a Welsh composer.

Nicholas recently graduated with a first class honours degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where he studied under the tutelage of Gordon McPherson and Stuart MacRae. During his time at the Royal Conservatoire, he also studied the piano with Heather Slade-Lipkin. He has had other tuition including masterclasses and workshops with composers including Sir James MacMillan, Alisdair Nicolson, David Fennessy and Oliver Searle.

Nicholas was awarded the Principal's Prize for All Round Excellence in the School of Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. In 2015, he was awarded the second prize at the International Composition Competition “Artistes en Herbe”.

Nicholas is a currently member of the 2018:19 Royal Scottish National Orchestra Composers' Hub. During the 2018/19 season he will write two new pieces for the RSNO, one for chamber ensemble and one for the full orchestra which will be performed in April 2019 conducted by RSNO Assistant Conductor Junping Qian.

Nicholas is also one of the composers on the Adopt A Composer scheme where he has been partnered with Da Capo Alba, a Mandolin and Guitar orchestra based in East Kilbride. The scheme is run by Making Music in partnership with Sound and Music, in association with BBC Radio 3, it is funded by the PRS Foundation, Philip and Dorothy Green Trust and Creative Scotland. Nicholas is also currently a composer on the Composing For Bassoon scheme run by Psappha where Nicholas will produce a new work for solo Bassoon to be played by Ben Hudson.

In March 2017, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales performed his work A Shade or Two Darker in concert at the BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff under the baton on B Tommy Andersson. In the same month, Nicholas also worked with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Mark Heron workshopping and recording his piece Coordinates.

Nicholas had two new works premiered in the 2017 Plug Festival. His piece, Cloudmine, was written for the Glasgow New Music Expedition and premiered by the GNME and Jessica Cottis. In the same festival, students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland performed Impromptu for two pianos.

Nicholas's work 52:48 (or How to be Ignorant) was premiered by the RCS MusicLab at Sir James MacMillan's Cumnock Tryst Festival. Kenneth Walton in a review of the work called it "bristling with character" and "a skilfully crafted, amusingly ironic musical response to empty political rhetoric."

In 2016, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Chorus premiered a new work Taliesin under the direction of Gregory Batsleer. In May of the same year, Nicholas had two new works premiered at Plug 2016. Numb, for small ensemble, was given its premiere under the baton on Tony Thatcher with the internationally renowned Frankfurt based Ensemble Modern. Delta U, a piece for violin and sinfonietta, was given its premiere by the Composers’ Collective at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Other compositions include Echoes of Empire, which was written for Red Note Ensemble, and performed at the opening night of Plug 2015 at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Nicholas has had a number of collaborations including with poet Kenneth Steven for a setting of his poem Sometimes, performed aboard HMS Unicorn docked in Dundee.

His works have been played in leading venues around the UK; including City Halls, BBC Hoddinott Hall, and both the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall’s New Auditorium, and Recital Room. Other venues his works have been performed in include the RCS’s Stevenson Hall, Ledger Recital Room, and Alexander Gibson Opera Studio in Glasgow, the Reid Concert Hall, Edinburgh and the Bradenstoke Hall, Vale of Glamorgan.

In addition to his work as a composer, Nicholas has tutored composition in a variety of contexts; including at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's Composition Summer School, and at the United World College of the Atlantic.

As a conductor, Nicholas recently led the Glasgow New Music Expedition in a public workshop performance during Plug 2017 for their Plug Preview concert. The project showcased the work of composers from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Junior Conservatoire offering advice and a chance to hear their music played by professional musicians.

During the 2016 RCS Piano Festival he conducted the John Cage Concert for Piano and Orchestra. During Bridge Week 2017, he workshopped his own work Oration Nation with players from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

As a conductor, Nicholas has worked with the Glasgow University Brass Band and the Glasgow University Law Society Choir. He conducted the premiere of his piece Second Childishness for the project Moments for the RCS’s Bridge Week 2014 and is keen to pursue more conducting projects in the near future. He studied conducting under Nigel Boddice MBE and Alistair Mitchell.