ND Graduate Joins Music Staff of Cincinnati May Festival

Author: Noelle Elliott

The Cincinnati May Festival, North America’s oldest choral festival, announced recently that conductor Matthew Swanson, ND ’11, will assume the role of Associate Director of Choruses and Director of the May Festival Youth Chorus in July 2018. His

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duties will include the artistic leadership of the Youth Chorus and oversight of the organization’s fast-growing community outreach and engagement activities. The May Festival was founded in 1873 and presents five programs of choral masterworks each May in collaboration with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The May Festival Chorus is the official chorus of the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras.

A four-year member of the ND marching band, concert band, and symphony orchestra, Swanson graduated with honors in music and earned graduate degrees from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (UC-CCM) and King’s College, Cambridge. He will receive his doctorate in conducting from UC-CCM later this year.

Most recently, Matthew was Director of Special Projects for the May Festival. His 2017-2018 activities included the formation and implementation of the May Festival Community Chorus, a new 165-voice ensemble that will join the May Festival Chorus for selected projects, as well as artistic and community outreach responsibilities for the May 2018 production of Leonard Bernstein’s MASS.

Swanson was awarded the May Festival Choral Conducting Fellowship in 2015 as part of his doctoral studies in conducting at UC-CCM. He previously served as the chorus master of CCM Opera and held adjunct faculty positions in the Division of Music Education and the CCM Early Music Lab.  

Though Swanson earned degrees in trumpet performance and American Studies at Notre Dame, he elected to pursue graduate studies in choral conducting thanks to his experience in the Notre Dame Glee Club. “Notre Dame’s Department of Music provided an extraordinary undergraduate experience in every respect: preeminent scholars in the classroom, inspiring conductors in the concert hall, and the institutional support to gain valuable practical experience,” Swanson noted. “The skills I developed at Notre Dame as a performer and scholar continue to inform my work on a daily basis.”

Swanson recently returned to campus to conduct the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra in March and led the orchestra in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1; the program also featured alumna Karyn MacFarlane, ND ’98, as violin soloist in a thrilling rendition of Ravel’s Tzigane. “It was a joy to return to campus to collaborate with the orchestra and to visit the Department’s extraordinary new home, O’Neill Hall,” Swanson said. “I am grateful to ND Symphony music director Dan Stowe for the invitation, and I look forward to future performances together!”