James Olin was born in Schenectady, New York and began his musical studies on the piano at the age of five. By high school Mr. Olin had performed professionally within the diverse musical genres of classical, jazz, rock, blues and country-western. Mr. Olin holds degrees from the Interlochen Arts Academy and Northwestern University, where his major teachers included Frank Crisafulli, Jay Friedman and David Sporny. He also studied at music festivals including Oberlin, Aspen, Monteux and Tanglewood.
Mr. Olin joined the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 1976 as second, assistant first and utility trombone and was promoted to principal trombone in 1983. He has been a faculty member of the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University for sixteen years during which he has taught chamber music, repertory classes, pedagogy, and lessons in applied trombone.
Formerly the principal trombonist with the Grand Teton Music Festival, Mr. Olin has given master classes for the Eastern and International Trombone Association workshops and for the National Orchestral Institute at the University of Maryland. Mr. Olin has performed as a soloist with the Baltimore Symphony, Roanoke Symphony, Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the United States Navy Band. In addition, he has had the honor of performing under many of the world's finest conductors, including Solti, Bernstein, Ozawa, Levine, Rozhdestvensky, Zinman and Temirkanov, and can be heard on over twenty-five recordings with the Baltimore Symphony on the Argo, Sony, Columbia, Telarc, Vanguard and Nonesuch labels.