Backstage Pass with the Singing Swensen Family

Backstage Pass with the Singing Swensen Family

Mon, 03/28/2011 - 1:00pm - 2:00pm

Pictured (L-R): Eastman vocal coach Benton Hess, Kathryn Cowdrick Swensen, Matthew Swensen, RPO Music Director Christopher Seaman, and Robert Swensen

Tenor Robert Swensen, mezzo-soprano Kathryn Cowdrick, and tenor Matthew Swensen  join host Julia Figueras for a special edition of Backstage Pass.

The Swensen Family performs live in WXXI's Studios on Monday, March 28 at 1 p.m. You can hear the performance on Classical 91.5/FM-HD 91.5-1, and for this special edition you can watch the performance online, right here! The Swensens will be joined by accompanist Eastman vocal coach Benton Hess. So, join WXXI for a very special hour with this charming, funny and amazingly talented family. An encore broadcast will run on Sunday, April 1 at 2 p.m. on Classical 91.5/FM-HD 91.5-1.

Listen to the interview!


Backstage Pass is a live, hour-long radio series that is committed to highlighting performing artists – giving Classical 91.5/90.3/FM-HD 91.5-1 listeners the opportunity to hear local and visiting musicians performing live. The series is made possible in part by a grant from the Gouvernet Arts Fund at Rochester Area Community Foundation.

More about our guests:

Mezzo-soprano Kathyrn Cowdrick began her career when awarded an Adler Fellowship with the San Francisco Opera and went on to appear in many roles with the company, including Meg Page in Falstaff, Paulina in Pique Dame, Siebel in Faust, and in their productions of Die Walküre, Die Zauberflöte, Il Ritorno di Ulysse, La Traviata, Adriana Lecouver, Romeo et Juliette, Manon, Der Rosenkavalier, Il Turco in Italia, and The Medium. A native of Allentown, Pa. she is a graduate of Penn State and Columbia University with degrees in Speech and Voice Pathology. In addition, she was a member of the Opera Center at the Juilliard School. She is also one of those rare individuals that has been able to continue to work as both a performer and teacher. She has been a member of the Eastman School of Music voice faculty since 2002, and is a well respected master class clinician for both performance and healthy pedagogy.

Tenor Robert Swensen is Associate Professor of Voice at the Eastman School of Music. He received his BM from the University of Arizona and graduated MM cum laude from the University of Southern California. He went on to participate in the San Francisco Opera's Merola program and to have contracts with the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich, the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich and with the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin. He won first prize in the Concert Artists Guild International Competition and presented his NY debut recital in 1987. He has received prizes in other contests that include the Premio Giuseppe Borgatti Concorso, Italy, the ARD Munich Competition, Walter Naumberg competition, the 's-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands, the Puccini Foundation and the George London Foundation.

Tenor Matthew Swensen is a Penfield High School senior, and is the winner of the District 7120 Student Vocal Competition. As the winner Matthew received a cash prize and a scholarship from Roberts Wesleyan College.

Benton Hess is Distinguished Professor of Voice and Senior Vocal Coach at the Eastman School of Music. He is also  Music Director of the Eastman Opera Theatre.  He has conducted hundreds of performances for dozens of opera companies throughout the world. Known as one of America’s foremost vocal coaches and accompanists, he has worked with Nicolai Gedda, Eleanor Steber, and Reneé Fleming.