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Local Spotlight - Marissa Olegario

Dr. Marissa Olegario is the bassoon professor at the University of Arizona and Principal Bassoonist of Tucson Symphony.

She was nominated for the 2021 Five Star Faculty Award, the only completely undergraduate nominated and selected award on campus. Dr. Olegario performs in the US and internationally as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician and has collaborated with artists from Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmoniker and the Breaking Winds Bassoon Quartet.

Inspired by community engagement and innovation, she has partnered with Dance for Parkinson’s, Tucson’s Beyond Foundation and UA’s Laboratory of Tree Ring Research. She enjoys performing in all sorts of venues from concert halls to local bars to share her music with a wide audience. She was a semi-finalist for the 2016 Matthew Ruggiero International Woodwind Competition and recipient of the New York City Council on the Arts grant. Dr. Olegario holds degrees from Northwestern University and Yale.

Want to hear Marissa's music?

Cafe 1930 - Soundcloud

Pine Chant - Bandcamp

The Jack Set II: III. Playful - for Two Bassoons - Spotify

We asked Marissa 5 questions about her experience as a musician in Tucson. Here's what she said:

What's your favorite venue to play in Tucson?

I am at heart an outdoors person so I really love the idea of performing outside. There’s something special about being outside that makes people more comfortable and I find it easier to connect with audiences in this environment. My first outdoor performance was at the Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens in Connecticut and I loved it. Tucson is perfect to perform outdoors, at least for 8 months out of the year. So I’ve really enjoyed taking advantage of that and performing at the Tucson Botanical Gardens, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and (not outside but) next to a 10 ft. wide Sequoia slab in the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research building on the UA campus.

What's the funniest thing that's happened during a performance?

Well it actually happened outside! My most interesting venue was performing the Mozart Concerto on the pickle ball court at the Lowes Ventana Country Club! The birds were singing along in the second movement. It was equally funny, awesome, and beautiful.

What's your first memory as a musician?

I actually started my musical career as a karaoke singer. Hehe! I loved 80s and 90s ballads by superstars like Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey. I never forget memories of singing with my grandfather and mom. As a bassoonist, my first memory is of me trying to put the thing together and celebrating when I finally did! My first note was a very out of tune open F.

What's your favorite song to perform?

Oh goodness what a tough question. I have loved performing Villa-Lobos’ "Ciranda das Sete Notas" with a string quintet. Another piece I absolutely loved performing was John Steinmetz’s Sonata. It’s an extremely emotive and soul exposing. Music is all about creating a safe avenue to express utmost vulnerability.

What's the best advice you've ever received?

Be yourself! Don’t try to be anything else but. We’re all unique and have something special to offer. On top of that practice and work diligently.


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