Summer 2013

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Nicky Swett, far right, plays with the Northwestern Cello Ensemble at the Northwestern Alumni Association Alumni Awards ceremony in March. Photo by Jasmin Shah.

A Familiar Song

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Cellist Nicky Swett, a great-grandson of Irving Berlin, finds his own tune.

When Northwestern cello professor Hans Jensen asked Nicky Swett to organize and arrange the Irving Berlin song “Blue Skies” for the Northwestern Alumni Association Alumni Awards ceremony in March, the sophomore was nervous. He had never performed one of Berlin’s songs before and felt like he had to do a good job — especially because he is Berlin’s great-grandson.

“It was absolutely an honor to play Berlin’s song at the award banquet,” Swett said. “I always heard Berlin’s songs growing up and thought of them as part of my upbringing.”

Swett, a double major in music and comparative literature from New York City, is a member of the Northwestern Cello Ensemble, which performed at Northwestern’s Cello Fest last October, when the ensemble joined other young Chicago-area cellists to form a 40-cello orchestra.