Joseph Swensen currently holds the posts of Principal Guest Conductor & Artistic Adviser of the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris (formerly known as the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris), Conductor Emeritus of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and Founder and Artistic Director of Unity Hills Arts Centers International (U-HAC).
Swensen was Principal Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra from 1996-2005. He has also held positions at the Malmo Opera (2008-2011), Lahti Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and Swedish Chamber Orchestra. Swensen is a busy guest-conductor throughout the world (from Europe, to the USA, Japan and Australia), enjoying long-established relationships with the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, London Mozart Players, and Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música, amongst others.
As principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Joseph Swensen and the orchestra toured extensively in the US, UK, Europe and the Far East. They have performed together at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York, Tanglewood and Ravinia Festivals, the BBC Proms, the Barbican and the Concertgebouw. Swensen and the orchestra have also made several recordings including a series of CDs for Linn records.
As principal conductor of the Malmö Opera in Sweden, Swensen was widely recognised as the driving force behind Malmö Opera's transformation into one of the most important opera companies in Sweden. During his tenure there, he conducted highly acclaimed productions of Salome, La Boheme, La Traviata, Macbeth, Vanessa, The Dialogues of the Carmelites, La Fanciulla del West, and Madama Butterfly, among others.
As of next season (2012/13), Joseph Swensen will return to the violin, once again performing concerti with orchestra. Before launching his conducting career, Swensen enjoyed a highly successful career as a violin soloist throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, and was an exclusive recording artist with BMG Classics. He will now combine solo violin playing with his conducting career. Swensen has also formed a violin-piano duo with the American pianist and conductor, Jeffrey Kahane.
Joseph Swensen also has a keen interest in developing the art of play-directing, and regularly directs from the violin with orchestras such as the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, London Mozart Players and Scottish Chamber Orchestra. His series of recordings for Linn Records with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, where he directed the Brahms, Mendelssohn, Sibelius and Prokofiev’s 2nd Violin Concerti from the violin, were internationally acclaimed. With the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, Swensen created the first ‘Paris Play-Direct Academy’ in May 2011. This week-long course for talented young soloists was so successful that the academy will take place again in June 2013, once again under Swensen’s guidance.
As a composer, Joseph Swensen's works include Mantram (1998) for string orchestra, Latif (1999) for solo cello with chamber ensemble, and Shizue (2001) for solo shakuhachi and orchestra and the recently premiered Sinfonia-Concertante for Horn and Orchestra (The Fire and the Rose) (2008). Swensen's orchestration of the rarely performed 1854 version of Brahms' Trio Op. 8, a work he has entitled Sinfonia in B, has been performed widely by orchestras in Europe and the US since its première in 2007.
Joseph Swensen is the Founder and Artistic Director of Unity Hills Arts Centers International (in Vermont, USA). U-HAC not only serves as the focal point of Swensen's teaching activities, but it is also a charitable aid organisation whose primary aim is to bring the arts of all cultures to underprivileged and underserved rural communities across the world.
Joseph Swensen was born on August 4, 1960 in Hoboken, New Jersey and grew up in Harlem, New York City, (an American, of Norwegian and Japanese descent). He maintains residences in Copenhagen (Denmark), Florida and Vermont (USA).
|Date and venue||Title|
Queen's Hall, Edinburgh
|Scottish Chamber Orchestra: Stravinsky, Beamish and Beethoven|
|The seemingly endless variety of conducting styles in existence intrigues me. This is particularly striking when one conductor displays three styles, in as many pieces, in a single concert. Joseph Swenson (Conductor Emeritus of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra) began this programme by guiding the SCO through Stravinsky's Concerto in E flat, 'Dumbarton Oaks' (1937). This was a performance brimming with vitality. His movements were tiny: a flick of his right pinkie cueing in a pair of watchful double bassists; a rotation of the left wrist endorsing phrasing in the violins.|
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