Howard Swan Award

Since 1985, it has been the privilege of CCDA to recognize an outstanding choral director in our state who is retired from full time conducting, having spent the major portion of their careers in California. Candidates are nominated by the CCDA Board of Directors and voted upon by past presidents. A nominee may be generally well known or known only in the immediate area in which he or she worked.

Swan2Howard Swan   This prestigious lifetime achievement award given to this conductor is named in honor of Dr. Howard S. Swan who was known as the “Dean of American Choral Directors.” Howard Swan’s life spanned almost the entire twentieth century. It is nearly impossible to overemphasize the far-reaching effects of his artistic command, powerful personality, and humanitarian spirit. After beginning his career as a teacher at Eagle Rock High School, Dr. Swan became the choral director at Occidental College in Los Angeles, a position he held from 1934-1971. The Occidental College Glee Clubs under his direction gained national stature, performing with exquisite tone quality and electric communication. Dr. Swan became the mentor of multiple generations of choral directors. Conductors from all over the country would come to study with him at Oxy, and subsequently at Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine. His integrity, high view of the artistic/human role of the choral director, and compelling ability to challenge and inspire students and colleagues to greater vision and higher standards awakened the collective conscience of the choral world. It is for this reason that the book containing his writings and speeches is entitled, Conscience of a Profession: Howard Swan, Choral Director and Teacher.

Howard S. Swan Award Recipients

At the CCDA January Board Meeting, two candidates are nominated for the Swan Award. These names are submitted and voted upon by the past presidents. At the time of the nomination, the candidates are to be retired from full-time conducting, having spent the major portion of careers in California.