California conductor MARK LANE SWANSON celebrates his nineteenth season as Music Director & Conductor of the AMHERST SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA during the 2019-2020 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 served on the music faculties at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, San Francisco State University, and the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University 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 orchestral and opera conducting were completed at the Jacobs School. In addition to the Conservatory, SFSU and IU, Mr. Swanson has directed orchestras at The Ohio State University School of Music, where he is a frequent guest conductor in the Lyric & Opera Theater program, UC Berkeley, where he led its Repertory Orchestra, and UC San Francisco. He has also served as vocal coach/accompanist/assistant conductor at Utah Festival Opera and at the IU Opera Theater. At the Jacobs School he also taught undergraduate opera workshop, the graduate course in orchestral conducting for doctoral minors, and conducted the Jacobs School of Music 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 among 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-- three times,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).