Dr. Kirsten Swanson

Viola, Violin Teacher

Kirsten Swanson

SAA Member


Charlotte, NC
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The Classical Voice of North Carolina described violist and violinist Kirsten Swanson as a “stunning musician with flawless technique combined with that unique ‘viola’ sound that can melt your soul.”  Feeling equally at ease with “new” and “old” music, in an orchestra or solo, Dr. Swanson enjoys a diverse career that has taken her all over the world.

A committed teacher, Kirsten has studied Suzuki pedagogy with Joanne Martin, Betsy Stuen-Walker, James Hutchins, and Joanne Bath and holds a Graduate Certificate in Suzuki Pedagogy from East Carolina University. During the summers, she teaches at the North Carolina Suzuki Institute in Greenville, NC, Chamber Music on the Hill (CMOTH) in Spartanburg, NC, and at various camps and festivals throughout the state.

Over the course of her career, she has started hundreds of children on the violin and viola, both privately, and as the head of the Suzuki violin and viola program at the prestigious Oakwood School.  Equally at home teaching adults and students, she is an adjunct professor of viola, violin, and chamber music at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and maintains a private studio out of her home.

As an orchestral musician, Dr. Swanson held the position of Assistant Principal viola with the Charlotte Symphony from 2005-2007, and will hold it again for the upcoming 2019-2020 season. She has won positions in the Winston-Salem Symphony and Greensboro Symphonies and has played full-time as a section member with the North Carolina Symphony in 2013 and 2018-2019. This past year, she was invited to sit as guest principal viola with the Amarillo Symphony.

An experienced chamber musician, Dr. Swanson has collaborated with such artists as Schlomo Mintz, Garth Knox, Jon Nakamatsu, and members of the the JACK, Pacifica, and Ciompi String Quartets. She is currently the violist of the Madison Park String Quartet, the quartet in residence at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Music has taken Kirsten across the United States, Europe, and South America as a guest violist in festivals in Holland, England, France, Italy, Austria, Spain, Peru, and Chile.  Nationally, she participated in the Garth Newel Chamber Festival, Kneisel Hall, and, as a New Horizons Fellow, the Aspen Music Festival in Aspen, Colorado.

She holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, the Longy School of Music, East Carolina University, and the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Her teachers include John Graham, Roger Tapping, and Scott Rawls.