Eileen Swanson is grateful for a long and fulfilling musical life in the Seattle area. Born and raised in Longview, Washington, she entered the University of Washington in the fall of 1967, studying music history, viola with Donald McInnes, and harpsichord and chamber music with Silvia Kind. While still a graduate student, Ms. Swanson joined the Northwest Chamber Orchestra at its founding in 1973, and performed with the orchestra until its disbanding in 2006. She continues playing in the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra, of which she was a founding member in 1989. For over 30 years she managed and performed in the Cathedral Chamber Orchestra of St James Cathedral.
Ms. Swanson’s chamber music life started with an invitation to play in the Cornish String Quartet founded by Martin Friedmann, the beginning of a decades-long friendship with the Friedmann family. Later, she founded the Providence Point String Quartet, which played for 20 seasons at Providence Point in Issaquah. Summers for over 30 years (until Covid) included a week working with adult amateur musicians at Midsummer Musical Retreat. She has also coached at the Puget Sound Chamber Music Workshop.
Career highlights more far-flung than Seattle include playing in a string quartet on the Great Wall of China and appearances at the Alaska Festival of Music, the Grand Canyon Chamber Music Festival, the Berkshire Bach Festival, and the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival. Orcas Island has been a treasured part of life since her late husband, Al Swanson, became OICMF’s recording engineer. Their son Stephen, a double bassist, has also performed with the festival.