George Edward Swanson
George Swanson, a trombonist, singer, and conductor, has been active for four decades as a professional musician in a variety of ways, including performing, teaching, and serving in church music. He has been acclaimed for his work as both a choral conductor and performer.
George was born in Stoneham, Massachusetts, and grew up in the South, one of three children of Edward and Jean Simpson Swanson. Because both parents were active singers and played piano, music was a central part of life in their home.
His first lessons were taken on piano under his father, who had a natural gift for playing by ear. He then started lessons on trombone and euphonium, taking his first lessons from Rudolph von Unruh, a high school band director in North Palm Beach, Florida, who was preparing for his master's degree recital at Eastman School of Music. It was a fortuitous start that would be followed with study under highly regarded trombone teachers.
George attended Forest Lake Academy, where he played in the band and brass ensembles under Pat Silver. While there, he studied trombone under Gordon Hallberg, bass trombone with the Florida Symphony in Orlando, who would later play with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
After graduating from FLA in 1968, he enrolled at Southern Missionary College, now Southern Adventist University, where he completed a B.Mus.Ed in trombone performance four years later, having studied with Don Hough, trombone instructor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also studied voice for a year with Dorothy Ackerman at SMC.
Swanson's first teaching position was at Tri-City Academy in High Point, North Carolina, where he taught for two years. He then taught for three years at Campion Academy in Colorado. While at CA, he studied trombone in nearby Greeley with Buddy Baker, trombone teacher at North Colorado State University.
During this time he completed an M.Mus.Ed. in 1978 at Andrews University, with trombone as his performance area, studying under Jim Gilbertson, trombonist in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He also again played in AU ensembles under Pat Silver, a teacher he regards as a pivotal and inspiring mentor in his musical development, the person who influenced him to pursue a music career when he was in academy.
From 1979 to 1985, he taught at Glendale Adventist Academy in California. in 1988, he accepted a position as minister of music at the Camarillo Seventh-day Adventist Church, a position he has held now for over twenty years. In that time, the choir, under his leadership, has successfully auditioned eleven times to participate in the annual Disneyland Candlelight Procession and Concert, the most recent being this past year.
Also, during this time Swanson taught at Thousand Oaks High School from 2004 to 2007 and at San Fernando Academy from 2008 to 2010. While at TOHS, his choir was showcased twice on the stage at the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles during the annual LA Master Chorale High School Festival. His TOHS choral groups also received Gold awards at the San Francisco Heritage Festival and were invited to participate on stage in the Gold Festival in Chicago, at Orchestra Hall.
In 2000, while he was working at Faith for Today television, he facilitated a reunion of FFT and Voice of Prophecy Quartet members. The nine participants, singers Stan Schleenbaker, Bob Edwards, John Thurber, Larry Fillingham, Jack Veezy, Jim Riipley, Jim McClintock, and Don Siebenlist, and organist Van Knauss, gave a series of concerts as part of the FFT 50th anniversary celebration.
Througout his life, Swanson has sought to further develop his musical talents. This goal led to additional voice study with Carolyn Bissell Rhodes, and instrumental conducting instruction under several conductors, including maestros Jon Robertson, Herbert Blomstedt, Frederick Fennell, and Hans Beer. Choral conducting teachers have included Rodney Eichenberger, Paul Salamunovic, Weston Noble, J. Randall Stroope, and others.
Swanson, who married Ada Perusquia in 1989, has three sons. Adam works as a medical physicist in San Diego, Benjamin is in construction management/civil engineering, and Tim is pursuing a medical career.
Source: Information provided by George Swanson, September 2011.