Senior shines as musician in Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra

Tipp City resident and senior at Troy Christian Schools, Kiersten Swihart is moving to her own music to reach her long-term goals. The daughter of Vareena and Steve Swihart, Kiersten began playing piano at 6, now adds flute, trumpet, and piccolo to her list, although the flute is her favorite.

“She’s been in band since she was in fifth grade, and was a remarkable standout in middle school,” said her band director, Lawrence Kennon. “Once I saw her drive and motivation, I started pursuing any opportunity I could find for her.”

Kiersten was introduced to wind instruments in fourth grade. “The band director would come into our room and let us try out instruments. I tried a reed instrument, but thought it would interfere with my braces,” she said. “When I tried the flute, it made a sound, so I decided on that.” Christina Roberts, a flutist, was her band director for fifth and sixth grades.

In seventh grade, Kennon became the band director, “and I started playing trumpet, too, and also piccolo,” she said, “but my main instrument is flute.”

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She’s in the school’s concert band, jazz band, pep band and plays trumpet in marching band, where she’s also drum major. When Kennon broke his leg in the fall of 2020, the school hired a substitute for concert band, but none for marching band. “It was Kiersten’s sophomore year, and she served as the director, led rehearsals and ran the whole program to make sure they had a marching band season, so the show went on while I was at home.”

“My mom grew up playing classical piano, and that got me into music,” said Kiersten. “My older sister wanted to play clarinet for the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, but decided not to try out – I probably wouldn’t have tried out if she had.”

At the end of eighth grade, Kiersten tried out, got in as a freshman, and this year is principal chair in the flute section. “We rehearse every Sunday and have three-to-four concerts a year,” she said. “We performed at the Dayton Arcade’s grand re-opening, and I also performed there as a flute soloist with fellow WDPR Discover Classical 2021 Young Talent Search winners.”

“Kiersten is a natural leader in the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra,” said conductor Dr. Patrick Reynolds. “She is prepared and attentive and serves as both a musical and leadership role model for her peers.”

In addition, she plays with the Wright State University Wind Symphony, “and we rehearse three times a week and perform several times each semester. It’s been amazing getting to play with them,” says Kiersten.

“She’s in the school’s top band, with mostly collegiate music majors, and this is her second year as principal flute,” Kennon noted.

This is also her second year as a member of the All-State Band, made up of top players from schools all over the state. “We’ll be rehearsing to perform at the all-state band conference in February, a showcase for music educators.”

With practice and rehearsal times, performances, and lessons with her private flute instructor Heather Verbeck, Kiersten still maintains a 4.35 GPA with some college credits already under her belt.

She’s applied to the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and has been given an audition date. “I want to major in flute performance and music direction and will figure out what I’ll do later — perform in orchestras, teach private lessons, or direct a high school or college band.”

“I admire her dedication to music and see much potential for Kiersten to have success in the music field or, frankly, whatever career she is drawn to,” said Reynolds.

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