About Olivier

Tenor Olivier Gagnon was born in Bermuda and raised in Ireland by Québécois parents. He is a recent graduate of Dawn Upshaw's Graduate Vocal Arts Program (VAP) at the Bard College Conservatory of Music, where he studied voice with Sanford Sylvan. He previously earned a Bachelor's of Music with Honours First class at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (GSMD).

the VAP at Bard College

In May 2017, concluding his time at Bard College, Olivier performed his Graduate Vocal Recital. This milestone project included selections from Matthew Aucoin's recently penned Merrill Songs, Thomas Adès's early chamber piece Life Story, songs from Hugo Wolf's Mörike Lieder, Franz Liszt's Petrarch Sonnets, and excerpts of Georgy Sviridov's nostalgic song cycle Russia Cast Adrift. Click here to view the recital, either partially or in its entirety.

During his years at Bard, Olivier was selected to perform Tamino in director Nicholas Muni's inventive reimagining of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at the Fisher Center for Performing Arts, conducted by James Bagwell. He also performed in various opera scenes, including selections from Mozart's Don Giovanni (Don Ottavio) and Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Belmonte), as well as Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande (Pelléas). With The Orchestra Now, he performed the three character roles of Governor, Vanderdendur and Ragotski in Bernstein's Candide in concert, conducted by James Bagwell. Other highlights of Olivier’s time at Bard include performing the Boston premiere of one of Matthew Aucoin's Merrill Songs as part of the "Guest Artists @ Longy" series at the Longy School of Music, and participating in a concert of works by Stephen Sondheim and Marc Blitzstein, in which Olivier performed excerpts from A Little Night Music and Sunday in the Park with George.

sacred music

An avid performer of oratorio, Olivier's interest in the sacred repertoire was sparked when he participated in the National Theatre's revival of Jonathan Miller's staged production of Bach's Matthew Passion, conducted by Paul Goodwin. Miller's focus on bare and truthful storytelling exposed the deep humanity of the Passion story, an aesthetic that Olivier has attempted to bring to all of his subsequent work with sacred music. He was a Choral Scholar at the Church of St. Andrew & St. Paul in Montreal, where he performed Mozart's Great Mass in C minor and Bach's Mass in B minor with music director Jonathan Oldengarm and conductor Jordan de Souza. With Montreal's St. John's Serenata, he was a soloist in Bach's Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (BWV 61) and in Stölzel's Saget der Tochter Zion. In New York state, Olivier was the tenor soloist for Bach's Jesu, der du meine Seele (BWV 78), with the Albany Symphony, conducted by David Alan Miller. Olivier has also frequently worked as a substitute chorus member for the music ministry at the Church of the Messiah in Rhinebeck, NY. In December 2016, he joined conductor Louis Lavigueur as the tenor soloist in Handel's Messiah for performances in Ottawa, Montreal and Longueuil. Olivier had previously performed Messiah with The Orchestra Now, led by Leon Botstein.


During his time at the Guildhall School, Olivier was training as a baritone, and performed the role of Sid in Britten's Albert Herring. He also performed in excerpts from Mozart's Die Zauberflöte (Papageno) and Massenet's Cendrillon (Pandolfe). Olivier took part in several of the school's prestigious, fully-staged productions, including Rorem's Our Town, Anderson's Chaplin, and Porter's Kiss me, Kate. It was during his time at Guildhall that Olivier was invited to perform with the London Symphony Orchestra in Berlioz's Roméo et Juliette at London's Barbican Hall and Paris's Salle Pleyel, conducted by Valery Gergiev.  At the Aldeburgh Festival, Olivier sang the chorus in the Britten Centenary award-winning production of Peter Grimes on the Beach at the Aldeburgh Festival, directed by Tim Albery and conducted by Steuart Bedford.

awards and additional education

While at Bard College, Olivier participated in a masterclass with director Peter Sellars; worked closely with soprano Dawn Upshaw (Artistic Director of the VAP) and pianist Kayo Iwama (Associate Director of the VAP), and coached with Erika Switzer and Alexander Technician Gwen Ellison. In 2014, Olivier won the "Prize for Best Interpretation of a Canadian Work" at the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Standard Life Competition, and was selected to take part in a masterclass with Swedish soprano Miah Persson. Earlier that year, he was a Britten-Pears Young Artist, where he worked with baritone Wolfgang Holzmair and pianist Imogen Cooper on Wolf's Mörike Lieder and Italienisches Liederbuch. At the Guildhall School, Olivier studied voice with Susan McCulloch, was coached and mentored by mezzo-soprano Sarah Walker, and was coached by Graham Johnson, Iain Burnside, Eugene Asti and Lada Valešová.

August 2017