Bassoonist and educator, Dr. Marissa Olegario is Assistant Professor of Bassoon at the University of Arizona and Principal Bassoon of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. She spends her summers in Durango, Colorado as second bassoon of the Music in the Mountains Festival Orchestra. Other orchestral engagements include the San Diego Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Augusta Symphony, and GRAMMY nominated ensemble True Concord Voices & Orchestra. As a soloist, she has performed with the Sierra Vista Symphony, Tucson Repertory Orchestra, Arizona Symphonic Winds, and the University of Arizona Symphony Orchestra.
Beyond her orchestral career, Olegario engages in a multitude of creative projects. Her work as a chamber musician in particular devotes significant time to collaborating with living composers and promoting and elevating the experiences of underrepresented artists. A member of the Arizona Wind Quintet (AWQ), she has performed recitals celebrating American female composers on the 19th Amendment’s 100th Anniversary. In an effort to acknowledge their place in a borderland, AWQ programmed a recital of Mexican composers which they performed at the Mexican Consulate of Tucson and took on tour in the Southwest region. Separately, Olegario has premiered two climate and nature-focused chamber works: Lachlan Skipworth’s Pine Chant for reed trio and electronics, and a work by Sarah Gibson for clarinet and bassoon premiered at the Tucson Botanical Garden. In 2023, Pine Chant was awarded the Australasian Performing Right Association's (APRA AMCOS) "Chamber Music Work of the Year". Olegario also remains an active sub with acclaimed ensemble The Breaking Winds Bassoon Quartet, performing on tour with the ensemble since 2016. Olegario’s chamber performances can be heard on the Naxos, New World Records, and Soundset Recordings labels.
Olegario believes that music is for and should be accessible by anyone and therefore much of her time is devoted to thoughtfully engaging with her community. This principle on community engagement formed during her time as a 2017-2018 Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Performance Fellow, where she received mentorship and professional development for emerging artists from underrepresented backgrounds. Moved by her experience, her creative activity and pedagogy center these same artists. As a mentor for the JustArts Fellowship, she performed in a concert of Mexican music hosted by her student, presented by the Association of Academic Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. Separately, Olegario also led an effort by the UA to commission the Double Reed Dish consortium to commission 4 new pieces for double reeds by a diverse group of American composers. She currently serves on the International Double Reed Society DEIB committee.
Olegario’s pedagogy incorporates community engagement activities. As part of her curriculum, her students participate in community projects which have included: organizing a concert to benefit the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona; volunteering for Tucson’s River Restoration Project to extract arundo donax, an invasive species that is also the material that makes reeds; and perform at an annual School of Music community outreach event organized and led by Olegario, Musical Murals, taking community members on a tour of 10 murals around downtown Tucson, coupled with music by student chamber ensembles from the University of Arizona. After a massive turnout of over 600 people, Musical Murals’ landmark success led to a feature on the Arizona Arts Signature Series. In addition, Olegario hosted the 2022 Meg Quigley Vivaldi Competition Symposium.
A successful pedagogue, Olegario was nominated for the University of Arizona’s “Five Star Faculty Award” in 2021. Her students have won professional orchestral positions, been awarded grants and fellowships, gone on to top graduate programs, built private teaching studios and work administrative jobs. She received her doctorate from SUNY Stony Brook (D.M.A.), and also attended Northwestern University (B.M.) and the Yale School of Music (M.M.), the latter of which awarded her its Alumni Prize.
A native of El Dorado Hills, California, Olegario cherishes the beautiful landscape of the Tohono O’odham Nation—also named Tucson, Arizona—where she makes her home with her husband Cody and her crazy dog, Rocky. A lover of trail running, her non-bassoon activities often find her training for her next distance race, including races anywhere between 5 and 50K.