Biography

Olof Lilja (originally Olof Nordin) was born in 1968 in Tanzania, where his father was in charge of the building of a hospital in Bulongwa in the Livingstone Mountains. When Olof was one year old, the family moved back to Sweden and Olof grew up in Stockholm. He began singing almost as early as talking and he had many chances of singing in public in the Evangelical-Lutheran congregation EFS, where his family was very active. Later on he followed in the footsteps of his brother and cousins at the Music School of Adolf Fredrik, with the inspiring JanÅke Hillerud as his teacher. Truly, without JanÅke's encouragement, Olof would probably not have devoted himself to work in the field of music.

In high school Olof studied music at Södra Latin and was fortunate to have a voice teacher, Krister Fagerström, who let him explore many different genres with great care. After that Olof studied economy at the Frans Schartau School of Economics before music became his main priority. He sang in a number of choirs including Chamber Choir Swedish Voices and the Royal Swedish Opera Youth Choir. The latter opened a door to a steady employment in the Royal Swedish Opera Choir and during his two seasons there he studied with Royal Court Singer Erik Saedén who laid the groundwork for his classical technique.

Between 1991 and 1993 Olof studied solo singing at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm with Britta Sundberg and David Harper as his teachers. In 1993 he was admitted to the State College of Opera where he studied with Royal Court Singers Nicolai Gedda and Kerstin Meyer. However, the most important teacher of all was professor Solwig Grippe with whom Olof began studying in 1996. He remained her student until she passed away in 2011.

Olof made his operatic début in 1992 as Basilio/Don Curzio at Södra Teatern, Stockholm. Early on he also had the opportunity to appear at the International Vadstena Academy, which has been very important for his development. After graduating from the State College of Opera in 1997 he has appeared in buffo and lyric parts at most Swedish opera houses, for example the Stockholm Royal Opera, Norrlandsoperan, Värmlandsoperan, Confidencen Ulriksdal’s Palace Theatre and the Malmö Opera. Roles worth mentioning are Der Student in Reimann’s Gespenstersonate, Belmonte as well as Pedrillo in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail and the title role in Pinocchio.

Olof's career as a concert singer, particurlarly in the sacred repertoire, began already during his studies. Today he is frequently engaged throughout the country, especially in the Evangelist parts in Bach’s oratorios. Someone who has meant a lot for his development is conductor/composer Anders Öhrwall. With him, the Adolf Fredrik’s Bach Choir and the Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble, Olof had the opportunity to perform the tenor solo parts in Bach’s Johannes-Passion, Magnificat, H-mollmesse, Handel’s Messiah… in fact most of the great oratorios from the high baroque era. Olof’s repertoire also includes Bach’s Matthäus-Passion, Handel’s Brockes-Passion, Mozart’s Requiem and C-mollmesse, Haydn’s Schöpfung and Jahreszeiten and Monteverdi’s Vespro della beata vergine.

Olof has also made many appearances abroad, for example at the festivals in Utrecht, Dresden, Bremen, Wroclaw and Boston. With world-acclaimed lutenists Stephen Stubbs and Paul O’Dette, Olof has appeared in several 17th-century operas, especially at the Boston Early Music Festival and the Festival An Oude Muziek Holland. He has also appeared on recordings and in television and radio, both in Sweden and abroad. Since 2007 he is a member of the Royal Swedish Opera Choir.