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”. 

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.

Photo: Heather Storer ©


Nicholas Olsen

Glasgow , Central Scotland
United Kingdom
55° 51' 51.2532" N, 4° 15' 6.5016" W
Central Scotland GB
Last edited by: SaM Editor