Biography for Colene Schwandt (Revision 2)
Born on September 14, 1928 in Keene TX to Thomas Jefferson Hooper and his wife Ethel Robinson Hooper. With her husband, Allen Lester Schwandt, Colene gave birth to Craig Allen (me) on August 30, 1955, and Bruce Edward on May 2, 1957. She died July 25, 2017 in Fallbrook, CA from natural causes. Some of the details of her life are recorded in the personal tributes on this site, including my own (Craig). Much of what she did revolved around music, particularly singing, her most vibrant passion. Her family was paramount, and fortunately, they too had music, in particular vocal music and song as their raison d'etre.
Her surviving close family includes (this list will be amended as family notifies me):
Further research will reveal more details of her early life. She grew up during the Great Depression, and her care with money stemmed from enduring the privations of that period. Some of her older siblings were grown and had left home during her formative years, but she remained close with all of them.
The family were devout Seventh Day Adventists (her father at one time was a traveling Bible salesman). Family meals always began with a prayer song, attendees holding hands. Vespers, mostly song – both individual and choral -- was regular on Friday night marking the beginning of the Sabbath, and Saturday sunset marking the end of the Sabbath night.
Colene was in the choir or a soloist through much of her life. Prior to obtaining her Masters in Music from the University of Redlands in 1979, she was a member of the William Hall Chorale.
Colene was active in the community wherever she went, particularly with socially related music. She instigated and ran the “Italian Opera Theater” festival in the Inland Empire. Started the “Lawn Chair and Picnic Society” in Dana Point to promote casual outdoor concerts, which also came to be known as “Concerts in the Park”. Online, she conceived and managed the “Live Music Exchange” for both musicians and patrons – matching the needs of communities to find artists for their music events, and needs of the artists to promote themselves. This effort also morphed into “Event Spin”, with a special focus on finding and promoting community musical events online (i.e., outside of the usual local newspaper channel). This was prescient as the Internet became more important for discovery of music events.
Colene was never shy about embracing new technologies. She began with newsletters on her home PC in the 1980’s; she had an email account since before AOL, she used Skype and Facetime to visit with family and friends. Even she took voice lessons over Skype in her final years from a teacher in Paris, France.
Colene was a recording artist, making her debut with an LP entitled “I Remember” in the mid-70’s, which included a family sing-along with her father, T.J. and her very reluctant husband and sons. Not incidentally, she always was very adept at all keyboards (mostly the piano), but also had skill with the dulcimer.
An amateur genealogist, she produced a large montage spanning 5 generations, and kept us all informed and connected even as all of our lives inevitably drifted apart.
She included among her many experiences: flying (she was a pilot before she married), skiing, accounting, art collecting, and of course traveling. From the South Pacific, to a summer studying voice in Munich, Germany, to China, and several visits to Europe, including trips to Portugal, the Soviet Union, and a week-long river cruise.
Colene had a formidable music career, and discovering all related details is proving impossible. Here follows a quote she wrote from a flier she had made for one of her (many) concerts. This one from Dana Point.
VOCALIST TO PERFORM AT THE CAMINO REAL PLAYHOUSE
Colene Schwandt is a professional soloist residing in Dana Point. She has performed in Music Festivals around the world. On April 27, Colene will bring her talent to the Camino Real Playhouse. Joining her on stage will be Thomas Macfarlane and Ronald Warnell. The Sunday afternoon tea and concert, “Mostly Americana”, will feature works by Gershwin, Bernstein, Copland, Sondheim and others. Selections include John Kander’s A Letter from Sullivan Ballou, Maria and Somewhere from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story and excerpts from Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin.
Ms. Schwandt received her Master of Music degree from the University of Redlands, where she later taught voice. Her opera and Broadway musical credits include Miss Wordsworth in Albert Herring, Lucy in The Telephone, Georgette in Il Tabarro, and Madame Armfeldt in A Little Night Music, to list but a few. She has performed with conductors Christopher Keene, Sir David Willcocks and William Hall in both the United States and Europe.