California conductor MARK LANE SWANSON celebrates his eighteenth season as Music Director & Conductor of the AMHERST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA during the 2018-2019 academic year. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, with a concurrent residence in Santa Monica, Mr. Swanson is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University (History & Economics), a former attorney holding the J.D. from the UCLA School of Law, and has previously taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, San Francisco State University, and the Indiana University School of Music in Bloomington. His undergraduate studies in music were pursued at the University of Southern California and the University of California at Berkeley, with an emphasis in composition, and his master’s degree and doctoral coursework in instrumental conducting were completed at IU Bloomington. In addition to the Conservatory, SFSU and IU, Mr. Swanson has directed orchestras at UC Berkeley, Stanford, and UC San Francisco, and served as vocal coach/accompanist/assistant conductor at Utah Festival Opera in Logan and at the IU Opera Theater. At IU he also taught undergraduate opera workshop, the graduate elective course in instrumental conducting, and conducted the New Music Ensemble. He has served as assistant to conductors Jung-Ho Pak, Thomas Baldner, Imre Pallo, David Effron, Michael Morgan, Patrick Summers, Joseph Silverstein, Sergiu Commissiona and many others.
Since his hiring in 2001 Mr. Swanson has transformed what was a small college orchestra half comprised of hired local professionals to an orchestra ranging in size from sixty to eighty musicians--virtually all current students at Amherst College. The orchestra has also performed numerous full-length operas (Carmen twice, The Marriage of Figaro, Hansel and Gretel, La Boheme) and eight full-length, fully staged musical comedies directed by A. Scott Parry (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, La Cage aux Folles, Candide, City of Angels, Cabaret, Evita, Sweeney Todd and Company). The orchestra has toured Florida, and Northern and Southern California (performing at the Colburn School of the Performing Arts and UCLA's Schoenberg Hall in Los Angeles and at Dinkelspiel Auditorium at Stanford University), and has performed twice at Symphony Space in New York City. Mr. Swanson has also served as Music Director of Five College Opera (Kurt Weill's Street Scene) and has conducted UMass opera (Hansel & Gretel; Pirates of Penzance).