Chicago Symphony Orchestra member Mark Swanson started his career as a music librarian working his way through the ranks of the CSO music library. He joined the library staff as an assistant librarian at the invitation of former librarians Marilyn Herring and Walter Horban in 1984. After Herring’s retirement in 1997, Swanson was named acting music librarian, a post he held until March of 1999, when he was appointed CSO music librarian.
Swanson is from the Chicago area and began his musical studies playing the trombone, later taking up guitar and bass. He became interested in arranging music at an early age and prepared arrangements for the local bands and student productions in which he performed.
During his undergraduate years at Columbia College, Swanson studied music theory, orchestration, composition and arranging with William Russo. He later studied composition with William Ferris and film scoring with Hans Wurman at the American Conservatory of Music. In addition, he studied trombone with Richard Faller and with James Gilbertsen, the CSO’s former associate principal trombone.
Swanson has worked extensively as a music copyist, preparing both hand-copied music manuscripts and computer-generated music engraving. In addition to various projects for the CSO, he has prepared manuscripts for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Plácido Domingo and Emanuel Ax, and he has been involved with many projects for musical theater, films, records, live performance and publication.
Several years ago, Swanson became interested in percussion and rhythm instruments from around the world. He has participated in rhythm training under percussionist Reinhard Flatischler, who founded a system of rhythm training that draws on basic rhythmic similarities of music from different cultures. He also has made his own hand-held frame drums.
He shares his love of opera, soccer (fans of the Chicago Fire and Manchester United Football Club) and baseball (Cubs) with his bride, soprano Nancy Pifer. His other interests include, cooking and home improvement. Mark and Nancy currently make their home in Chicago with their Jack Russell terrier, Oskar.