Evelyn Swenssen tells of ‘Life with Music’

Courtesy photoEvelyn Swenssen has published a book reviewing the high points of her career as a conductor and playwright.
Courtesy photoEvelyn Swenssen has published a book reviewing the high points of her career as a conductor and playwright.

We are all on a journey, and composer/ musician/performer Evelyn Swensson, formerly of Chadds Ford, known for her involvement in the music world, has created a road map of her incredible journey and success.

This meticulously detailed journey of a lover and creator of music is a revelation of how hard work, talent and good luck can create a marvelous life that also gives back, or ”pays it forward” as it is phrased today.

Coming from a musical family, it was almost a given that she would study music, which she did. Her movement from choir director to composer of children’s operas, working with top authors and composers including Gian Carlo Menotti, Libby Larsen, Sheldon Harnick, Charles Strouse and Joseph Robinette started with a chance meeting with “Chick” Laird in Wilmington. This led to her becoming Music Director of the extraordinarily successful “Junior Division” of OperaDelaware.

While raising four children, Swensson was director of music at Aldersgate Methodist Church for 30 years. She also conducted eight opera productions for children for OperaDelaware. Realizing the number of operas for children was limited, she composed and conducted twelve operas based on well-loved books for youth. She also conducted 48 performances of operas and musicals for established musical groups including The Brandywiners, Delaware Children’s Theatre, Brandywine Pops Orchestra and McCabe Middle School. During this period she was soloist in 22 musical events ranging from Broadway musicals and operas to sacred music in the U.S. and in Europe. She has won 13 awards for distinguished service and Lifetime Achievements, and they keep arriving.


This beautifully organized book with hundreds of color photographs is a blueprint of a well-organized life of achievement -- it just happens to be a map of a large percentage of the musical events in the Wilmington area. If one happened to be a member of one of the many productions Swensson worked on you just might be in the book. Swensson has been very generous in crediting the many people with whom she worked.

She has achieved a great deal. But the message that comes through loud and clear is her pride in the achievements of the many children she introduced to music and how it inspired them. The list of those children, now grown, who are in the arts, have sung at Carnegie Hall, are in a Broadway show or are teaching in the music field is close to her heart. This is one of her most cherished legacies.

The book, published by Commonwealth Book Publishers of Virginia, Alexandria, Virginia, 703-307-7715. The book may be purchased from Amazon for $25 or from Barnes & Noble.