Arts and Entertainment

New conductor brings baton to Vashon Island Chorale

The Vashon Island Chorale has named choral conductor Gary D. Cannon as its new artistic director. Cannon served as guest conductor in the fall of 2007, giving members of the chorale and the community a chance to get to know him.

“We had a very positive experience with Gary,” said Vashon Island Chorale president Jo Ann Bardeen. “He is an extraordinarily accomplished musician and conductor; he has extensive knowledge of the choral repertoire, and he is very supportive of our ‘everyone is welcome’ philosophy. We look forward to a long and productive relationship.”

Cannon said he is happy about his appointment as the chorale’s artistic director.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to return,” said Cannon. “It’s an honor and a pleasure to spend time with such a fun and devoted group of singers.”

Cannon conducts Seattle’s Cascadian Chorale and the Bethel Lutheran Church Choir in Shoreline. He has also served as chorusmaster of the Northwest Mahler Festival since 2001. He has conducted and founded several university choral groups at the University of Washington, where he is a doctoral student.

He has studied and sung with some of the world’s leading choral conductors, including Paul Hillier, Abraham Kaplan, Peter Phillips and Jeffrey Thomas.

An accomplished tenor, Cannon has performed with several area symphonic orchestras. He sings regularly with The Tudor Choir and currently performs in the stage chorus for Seattle Opera’s production of “Aida.”

Vashon pianist and composer Paul Swenson has been selected as the Chorale’s new accompanist. Swenson will replace Craig Hanson, who has joined the chorale’s bass section.

Swenson holds a master’s of music and a graduate diploma from the New England Conservatory, where he studied composition with Lee Hyla. Prior to that, he studied composition with Gregory Youtz at Pacific Lutheran University and piano with Richard Farner. His compositions have been performed throughout the world.

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