Conductor and lyric baritone Sven Edward Olbash began his musical career as a specialist in avant-garde and experimental vocal music, making his San Francisco professional recital debut at Old First Concerts in a program of all 20th century works as a tribute to his late mentor, composer and fellow Lynn, MA native Daniel Pinkham. During his four seasons as a member of new music ensemble Volti, Sven performed works by over 50 living composers—including 20 world premieres—and worked with Per Nørgård as soloist in his Wie ein Kind at the Other Minds Festival. He has also performed more traditional operatic roles with Longwood Opera, Lowell House Opera, and North Shore Light Opera.
As organist and music director for San Francisco’s Eglise Notre Dame des Victoires (NDV) from 2005-2012, he established the concert series Music at the French National Church, applying his experience with new music to the performance of Renaissance polyphony, approaching this early repertoire not as historical artifact, but as it might have been experienced by the first interpreters of the then “new” music. His work with the choirs of NDV led them to be invited to perform music of Lassus and Gregorian chant at La Sainte Trinité in Paris.
In 2008, he recorded the Gregorian chant album Blessed is the Ordinary with the Vermont-based Stepping Stone Chant Project, sparking a two year intensive study of the pre-notational performance practice of Medieval music. This led to the formation of the vocal ensemble Euouae in 2010 and their sold-out inaugural performance of the Messe de Tournai, the oldest surviving polyphonic setting of the Mass to be collected under one cover. Euouae's debut album you who sow in tears will reap in joy, directed and produced by Sven, features the earliest composed settings of the Requiem (Mass for the Dead) and of the sequence Dies irae.
As the yet unnamed Ensemble-in-Residence at NDV began to perform more and more concerts every year, and in the interest of bringing his work with Euouae to a wider community, Sven established the nonprofit organization Lacuna Arts in 2012 in order to “promote excellence in vocal music through performance, education, outreach, and community service.” From then on, the concert choir was known as the Lacuna Arts Ensemble. In 2014, Lacuna Arts was recognized as an independent 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. Since then the organization has expanded to include the larger Lacuna Arts Chorale and the educational Lacuna Arts Workshop in addition to the original small Ensemble.
Sven pursued his baccalaureate studies at Boston University with a double-major in Music and Education. He holds a Master of Music from New England Conservatory where he completed coursework for degrees in Voice Performance and Vocal Pedagogy and taught Voice for undergraduate music majors. His stage directing credits include Handel’s Xerxes at NEC as well as assisting director Colin Graham in the East Coast premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Flight at Boston Lyric Opera. He has been a clinician with SF Choral Society, Piedmont Choirs and SF Lyric Opera, leading sessions on music history, theory, singing technique, and French diction. He has been a Teaching Artist with San Francisco Opera’s ARIA program since its inception and has served on the Board of Directors of Circus Center, a nonprofit circus training school in San Francisco. He is currently Director of Music at Star of the Sea Church in San Francisco, where he conducts Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony for a Latin High Mass (Missa Cantata) every Sunday.