John Swain was born on August 12, 1950, in Yankton, South Dakota. John passed away at his home in Rosemead, California, on August 3, 2003, after a courageous battle with colon cancer. John is survived by his wife, Gail Mettler Swain, his daughter Abigail of Long Beach, his mother Florence Swain of Tyndall, South Dakota, sisters Jane Sheppard of Sparta, Wisconsin, and Maureen Buller of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He was preceded in death by his father, Joseph Swain. John grew up in Tyndall, SD, and graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1972 with a BFA in Music. In 1972, John married his wife Gail Mettler of Menno, SD. The same year, he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the Army and served in Ft. Knox, KY, for two years. In 1977, he completed a MM at the University of South Dakota and a PhD in Music at Michigan State University, Lansing, MI, in 1986. John taught music for 27 years, starting in public schools in South Dakota, and at Olivet College, in Michigan where he served as Director of Bands and later as Chair of the Department of Performing Arts. During the 1998-99 academic year, he served as a high school instrumental music teacher in Eden Prairie, MN.
John served on the faculty of California State University, Los Angeles for nineteen years. During his tenure at CSULA, John served as Chair of the Department of Music and was most recently the Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Letters. As chair of the University Music Administrators of California and as chair of the California Council on Music Education, he was a leader in setting agendas to examine issues in music education in California and developing programs that serve the needs of teachers and students in music education.
John has performed as a professional musician both as a low brass specialist and as a singer. He performed with the Los Angeles Gregorian Schola, the Pasadena Pro Musica and as a freelance instrumentalist, having performed with ensembles such as the California Brass Ensemble and Rising Winds Chamber Ensemble. He was the founding conductor of the Golden State British Brass Band and has served as guest conductor of a variety of instrumental ensembles in Southern California and elsewhere. He served regularly as an adjudicator and clinician for band, orchestra and choral festivals. His published texts include "The Brass Instruments: A Reference Manual". He was also a composer/arranger of works for band, brass band, orchestra and small ensembles. John was proud to serve as a judge for the Bravo Awards, sponsored by the Los Angeles Music Center.
Services were held at Sts. Felicitas and Perpetua Catholic Church, 1190 Palomar Road, San Marino, CA 91108, on Friday, August 8, 2003 at 10 AM. John's ashes are buried in St. Leo's Catholic Cemetery in Tyndall, South Dakota.
If you wish to contribute to John's memory, please make donations to a scholarship fund being established at CSULA. Checks may be made out to CSLA Foundation/JSwain Scholarship and mailed to:
California State University Los Angeles
College of Arts and Letters
5151 St. University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032-8100.
Return to Table of Contents