Peggy Amsterdam Outstanding Achievement Award
This award was created in honor of Peggy Amsterdam, Director of the Delaware Division of the Arts from 1993-2000. Before her untimely passing in 2009, Peggy was a pillar in the arts world – recognized regionally and nationally for her leadership and vision, for expanding people’s access to the arts, and for supporting excellence in artistic expression.
Evelyn Swensson has been a powerful musical force in Delaware for 58 years: 13 years in Seaford and Dover, and 45 years in Wilmington. During her illustrious career she has been a conductor, composer, performer, lecturer, and educator.
As Director of Music at Mt. Olivet Church in Seaford, she organized a chorus of 120 singers to present free choral concerts. She conducted the Dover Choral Society, and in Wilmington, she was Director of Music at Aldersgate United Methodist Church (1969-2002). Swensson performed as a soloist with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, OperaDelaware, The Brandywiners, and Ardensingers, and after completing a Master of Music degree from West Chester University in 1972, she was the first woman to conduct all four of these organizations.
As Music Director for OperaDelaware’s Family Opera Theater (1974-2007), Swensson composed 12 musicals based on award-winning books in the school curriculum. A speaker/performer for the Delaware Humanities Forum, she has written and is still performing one-woman shows that illuminate the lives of women of historical importance.
Swensson has won many awards including Distinguished Alumna Awards from Harpeth Hall/Ward Belmont School in Tennessee, Hollins University in Virginia, and West Chester University in Pennsylvania. Her memoir, NOTES: My Life with Music, has recently been published.