Heartland Marimba

Celebrating classical marimba year-round with communities, artists, and students!

Blog: Bridget Olenik

This week HMF is featuring two of our members from the HMC Summer Tour. If you missed out, HMC toured around Iowa and in Omaha, Nebraska so far. There last of 11 concerts will be at the HMFAcedemy in Stephens Point, Wisconsin on July 11th @ 7:30. To honor the hard work HMC has put in and because it was America's birthday yesterday, HMF is putting on a double blog post about two of our HMC artists, Bridget Olenik and Jaime Esposito.

Bridget (Bri) Olenik is an active performer, composer, arranger, and educator in the Midwest. She has coached drum lines, bands, percussion ensembles, front ensembles and private students throughout states of Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio. As a performer, Bridget has played in a wide variety of genres from the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra to the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps. Currently, she is principal timpanist for the Urbana Pops Orchestra. When not in the concert hall, Bridget enjoys performing for school music programs all over the Midwest, inspiring the next generation of music makers through her performance and guidance. For the past four years, she has been involved as an artist and administrator with the Heartland Marimba Festival, promoting and performing the marimba across Iowa and the greater Midwest.

Bridget is the currently the Director of Music at Urbana University in Urbana, Ohio. She maintains an active clinician schedule and private studio alongside her duties to the music programs at Urbana. Bridget has arranged and composed music for bands, drum lines, percussion ensembles, front ensembles and for solo percussion. Bridget received her bachelor’s degree in music performance at Iowa State University with Dr. Matthew Coley and Dr. Barry Larkin. She completed her master’s degree in performance at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, studying with Kevin Bobo, John Tafoya, Steve Houghton, and Michael Spiro. Bri also proudly endorses Sabian and Vater Percussion.

What is your tie to HMF, how has it impacted your career?

BO: I met Matthew at Iowa State University. I was completing my undergrad degree when Matthew started teaching there. After I graduated, Matthew called me to participate in a few performances in the Midwest, and the following year the Heartland Marimba Festival was born. I've been involved ever since, and now serve on the board. The festival has become my main source of marimba performance after graduating with my masters; I have been a college band director since leaving IU, and while I'll hold the occasional recital my main chance to play marimba literature has been each summer in Iowa. I've met a few musicians I would not have met otherwise, and I've gained a deeper enjoyment of chamber music through the process. 

What individual or group of people guided you in your passion for music?

BO: There are a lot of people throughout my journey who have helped shape or impacted me musically. Of course, some of the largest influence came from my teachers. I would not have ended up in the places I've been without them (including HMF!). My parents are both musical and supported me when I decided to go into music. Attending Indiana University was a huge inspiration. So many of my classmates were incredible musicians and human beings, and many of them have since gained employment in the greatest orchestras, military bands, and opera companies. I wouldn't trade my Indiana experience for anything!

What is your favorite piece to play/ perform?

BO: If I had to choose, I can narrow it down to Mahler's 2nd Symphony and the Piano/Percussion Quartet by David Maslanka called "This is the World". Obviously, there are some extreme differences between the two pieces, but with both of those, the performance was a truly spiritual experience.

What are your goals?

BO: My goals are pretty simple. Make music, impact others with music, and teach others to love music. How I accomplish those goals is up for debate, but I enjoy being able to play with regional symphonies and the Heartland Marimba Festival while employed as a music teacher in the Midwest. So far, it has worked out well.

Tell us any more important information.

BO: I live in Ohio with my husband and our three cats. I guess I enjoy running now and have enjoyed where music has led us. We have met the most incredible people, traveled all over the country, and gained so many memories through performances and education. I certainly wouldn't have guessed I'd end up as a college band director in Ohio, and that's just part of the fun!


The HMF Blog interviews featuring our people are compiled and prepared by our 2017 intern, Scott Eiklenborg (a percussion student at Wartburg College, Waverly, IA).