After teaching at several other schools in New England, Resistant Artist Christopher Swist is celebrating his 15th year at Keene State College. Swist is known at the college for his knowledge of percussion, which he began to study at a young age. Growing up, Swist’s father was a recording engineer, making music a constant part of his childhood. “I’ve been told I was playing on the drums since I was four. I had two musical parents, so I don’t even remember starting. I just know it happened,” Swist said. At the age of six however, he started taking drum lessons.
Over the past 15 years as an educator at KSC, Swist explained that he has seen a lot of development in the music department, specifically in percussion. “I think we have seen a good growth in our percussion program here. When I started 15 years ago I believe that there was literally one percussion major. It’s gone up and down but, it’s sort of grown into having more concerts and higher quality performances,” Swist said.
Along with standards in the percussion department improving over the last 15 years, Swist commented that he was impressed by the improvement of the facilities as well as the advanced music technology students now have access to.
On Sunday Jan. 28 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in the Alumni Recital Hall, Swist will be playing a Faculty Recital. The performance will showcase four new pieces including a piece by composer and friend Ted Mann.The two have been working together since around the time Swist joined the faculty at KSC, which has built a strong bond between the two musicians.
“Sometimes we talk about starting a group,” Mann joked. Through the many years of working together, Mann explained his comfort with giving Swist the artist freedom to add his own personal expression to Mann’s original music. “Instead of totally controlling the piece with him, I know he’s going to put a personal touch to it,” Mann said. “I really like the way he plays so I let him look at the score. I like to see what he can come up with, or how he would interpret my score.”
Along with showcasing his own talent, Swist will be playing alongside fellow faculty members, which is something he was introduced to his first year at KSC. “15 years ago my first semester here I was invited immediately to start playing and collaborating with the faculty that was here back then,” Swist said.
Accompanying Swist on piano will be Professor Christina Wright-Ivanova. Wright-Ivanova explained that this will be her first collaboration with Swist, and the program he has put together for the event will be fun for the audience. “Chris has created a very exoxic, fresh take on chamber music for this program,” Wright-Ivanova said. “Audience members will have a few surprises.”
Despite some surprises, Swist explained what audience members should expect from the show. “It’s going to have a wide range of pieces plus there’s four brand new pieces no one has heard. Everyone is using different techniques and different ideas, which I think is great,” Swist said.
The recital is being held to commemorate the last 15 years Swist has spent at KSC. When asked why he chose to stay at the college for so long Swist stated, “I think I’ve gotten the most accomplished here.”
Erin McNemar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org