Butler grad student to perform with Butler Symphony Orchestra

Butler graduate student Kelly Swensson is one of the country’s finest young bassoonists.

Swensson, 24, will be performing a solo in Butler Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony on Feb. 24.

Butler bassoon professor Douglas Spaniol remembers the first time he met Swensson.

Swensson was a sixth grader who had recently picked up bassoon. Her mother turned to Spaniol for private lessons.

“I usually don’t work with students that young,” said Spaniol,“but right away, I knew that she was a special student.”

Spaniol said he was wise not to pass up Swensson.

“She’s the most accomplished bassoon student we’ve had here,” Spaniol said.

Amidst her many accolades, she was both a semi-finalist and later a finalist in The Meg Quigley Vivaldi Competition, a highly-prestigious international event for female bassoonists.

She is also a member of the Honor Band of America.

In addition, Swensson is already playing professionally.

She performs with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. She also frequently drives to Louisville where she plays with the Louisville Orchestra.

Swensson grew up on the east side of Indianapolis. As a child, she displayed a strong inclination toward music.

She recalls singing Disney music growing up. Her parents signed her up for the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, instructed by Butler’s Henry Leck.

While studying piano and voice, Swensson joined her middle school orchestra. It was short of a bassoonist when she joined, so Swensson took it upon herself to learn the instrument.

After high school, Swensson went on to study at Northwestern University as well as the Oberlin and Colburn conservatories.

For Swensson, there was never a backup plan.

“I knew I wanted to do music,” Swensson said. “I never thought about anything else.”

The faculty members at Butler who work with Swensson agree that it’s been a rewarding experience.

“It’s really a great opportunity for me to work with a student who is so bright, talented and interested in music,” said Spaniol.

Swensson also has the gift of affecting younger music students in a positive manner.

“It’s mutually beneficial,” said orchestra conductor Richard Clark. “She is willing to be open and share her experience with the other musicians.”

Swensson bids Butler farewell in May, when she graduates, and will step into the real world as a full-time professional musician.


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