2017 Swan Award Winner: John Alexander


John Alexander is one of America’s most respected choral conductors. His inspired leadership both on the podium and as an advocate for the advancement of the choral art has generated international respect and acclaim.

His long and distinguished career has encompassed conducting hundreds of choral and orchestral performances in 27 countries around the globe. Alexander is not only recognized for his exceptional talent in bringing the masterworks to life, but is also eminent as a strong proponent of contemporary American music. He regularly programs works by American composers, and has presented many premieres of their works. Recent seasons have seen Alexander conduct the world or West Coast premieres of Jake Heggie’s The Radio Hour, Frank Ticheli’s The Shore, the choral version of David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion, Thierry Escaich’s Trois Motets, and David Del Tredici’s Paul Revere’s Ride, as well as pieces by emerging young composers through Pacific Chorale’s Young Composers Competition. Previous premieres have included performances of works by John Adams, Dominick Argento, Luis Bacalov, Howard Hanson, James Hopkins, Morten Lauridsen, Stephen Paulus, Frank Ticheli and Eric Whitacre.

Alexander is renowned for his superb preparation of choruses for performances with the world’s leading ensembles and conductors. Preeminent artists on the world stage regularly request his efforts to prepare choruses for important works. Conductors with whom he has worked include Zubin Mehta, Seiji Ozawa, Pierre Boulez, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Michael Tilson Thomas, Leonard Slatkin, Gustavo Dudamel, Carl St.Clair, Lukas Foss, John Williams, Keith Lockhart, John Mauceri, Marin Alsop, Gerard Schwarz and Max Rudolf.

Alexander is nationally recognized for his leadership in the musical and organizational development of the performing arts. He is a board member and former president of Chorus America, the service organization for American and international choruses. Alexander also has served on artistic review panels for national, state-wide and local arts organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

Alexander retired in spring 2006 from his position of Director of Choral Studies at California State University, Fullerton, having been awarded the honor of Professor Emeritus. From 1970 to 1996, he held the position of Director of Choral Studies at California State University, Northridge. Alexander continues his involvement in the pre-professional training of choral conductors. He is in demand as a teacher, clinician, and adjudicator in choral festivals, seminars and workshops across the United States. In 2003, Chorus America honored him with the establishment of the “John Alexander Conducting Faculty Chair” for their national conducting workshops.

Alexander is also a composer of numerous works and serves as the editor of the John Alexander Choral Series with Hinshaw Music, as well as the John Alexander Singers Choral Series with Pavane Publishing. His numerous tributes and awards include: The “Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art” (2008) from Chorus America; the “Distinguished Faculty Member” award from California State University, Fullerton (2006); the Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy Award (2003), presented in honor of his lifetime achievement as an artistic visionary in the development of the arts in Orange County; the “Outstanding Individual Artist” Award (2000) from Arts Orange County; the “Gershwin Award” (1990), presented by the county of Los Angeles in recognition of his cultural leadership in that city; and the “Outstanding Professor” Award (1976) from California State University, Northridge.