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 bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from Brigham Young University and Level III OAKE-endorsed Kodály certification. He has taught choir at American Leadership Academy in Spanish Fork, Utah; at Timpanogos Academy in Lindon, Utah; and at Liahona High School in Liahona, Tonga, where he also served a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 2008, he joined the faculty at American Heritage School, where he currently teaches AP Music Theory and directs middle and high school choirs. From 2004-2007, he served as an assistant director with the Utah Valley Children’s Choir, leaving in 2007 to found the American Heritage Youth Chorus. Under his direction, this faith-centered choral program for children and youth has grown to include over 200 members who perform free, inspirational programs for audiences throughout the United States. Rob received the 2016 Indianapolis Symphonic Choir Christmas Carol Commission for his “Christmas Hosanna.” In Fall 2016, his original composition, “Go Forth From This House,” was recognized as a second-place winner and was performed at the state conference of the Utah ACDA. Rob resides in Pleasant Grove, Utah, with his wife, Kristy, and their four children.
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.
Vicki McMurray, Children’s Choir Director
Vicki McMurray comes to American Heritage from Maple Mountain High School in Spanish Fork, and prior that that from Mountain Ridge Jr. High in Highland. Throughout her career, Vicki has taught countless students in choral, general music, and private settings at all age levels, from pre-K to college. Her choirs have been recognized consistently at state and national festivals for their beauty of sound and musicality, but more important to her is that her students are enthusiastic about music. Vicki has a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Utah and a master’s degree in Choral Conducting from BYU. She is an accomplished choral director, performer, and music educator. A classically trained pianist, violinist and vocalist, Vicki recently retired from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir after ten years of service. Vicki has worked as a guest conductor and clinician, having directed the Utah State Women’s Honor Choir in 2014, and she has served as Musical Director for Savior of the World at the LDS Conference Center. She has also worked for many years as a Kodaly specialist at Brigham Young University and Seattle Pacific University.
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.