The American Heritage Youth Chorus is led by a staff of professional musicians and educators who work to provide a challenging but uplifting environment where choir members can refine their musical talents and grow spiritually. All of our director hold degrees in Music Education and are internationally certified in Kodály music teaching.

Rob Swenson, Concert Choir Director/Program Director

Rob Swenson holds a master’s degree in music education from Brigham Young University and Level III OAKE-endorsed Kodály certification. Prior to his graduation, Rob taught choir at Liahona High School in Tonga, American Leadership Academy in Spanish Fork, and Timpanogos Academy in Lindon. He is currently the performing arts department chair at American Heritage School where he teaches choir in grades 7-12 and AP Music Theory (both on-campus and online). In 2007, he founded the Timpanogos Youth Chorus – which is now the American Heritage Youth Chorus. Under his direction, this faith-centered choral program for youth has grown to over 150 members and has shared inspirational musical firesides with audiences across the country. Rob resides with his wife Kristy and their three boys in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Matt Thornton, Concert Choir Assistant Director

Matt Thornton graduated from Utah State University with a bachelors degree in music education. He also holds a masters degree in music education from BYU. As an undergraduate, Matt served as the Music Vice President of the Logan LDS Institute as well as the Dance President. He was also president of the New Horizons Institute Choir. While in Cache Valley, he worked with the Cache Children’s Choir and taught in their summer music camp. He has also worked as a music and dance specialist for Opera by Children. Matt has been trained in Orff, is Kodály certified and is currently an instructor at the BYU InterMuse Academy. He is the fine arts department head at American Fork Jr. High where he has taught choir for eight years.

Cheri Hancock, Children's Choir Director

Cheri grew up in San Jose California and comes from a musical family of ten children. She holds a bachelors degree in music education-choral emphasis from Brigham Young University. A coloratura soprano, she has held lead roles in many opera productions. She toured Israel and Greece with the BYU a capella choir and was a founding member of BYU Singers, traveling with them to Eastern Europe and Russia. While living in Boston she was a member and soloist with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, singing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops. She is currently a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and has soloed with them. She can be heard on their top-ranked Billboard CD “Come Thou Fount of Many Blessings.” Cheri has been an adjunct member of the BYU voice faculty and music education faculty. She holds international certification in Kodály music training and has taught voice for twenty-five years. She is currently on the music faculty of American Heritage School.

Deborah Otteson, Junior Choir Director

Deborah was born in Oakridge, Tenn. She is the eldest of nine living children. She graduated from Ricks and BYU (Provo) with a degree in Secondary Music Education. After serving a mission in the Oregon Portland Mission, she started teaching music in her hometown of Shelley, Idaho and spent her summers in Hartford, Conn. earning a degree in the Kodály Method at the KMTI. During her time in Idaho, she was also involved in many musicals, operas and singing groups. She is excited to be at American Heritage School and to be teaching music to young children.