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Joseph Swensen

Composer | Composition

Joseph Swensen will once again appear in concert performing the major violin concertos. Before launching his conducting career in the mid 1990’s, Swensen enjoyed a highly successful career as a violin soloist appearing frequently with the world’s major orchestras and important conductors. As an exclusive recording artist with BMG Classics his recordings of the Beethoven and Sibelius concerti in particular (with André Previn and Jukka-Pekka Saraste respectively) were well-received and influential. Chamber music has always been a hugely important and essential part of Swensen’s music-making. He is a member of a violin-piano duo with the American pianist and conductor, Jeffrey Kahane, and a brand new piano trio including cellist Carter Brey:KahaneSwensenBrey.

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, 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. In early 2012, the world première recording of Sinfonia in B was released on Signum records, along with orchestrations by Swensen of works originally for violin and piano by Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms.

Joseph Swensen is the Founder and Artistic Director of Unity Hills Arts Centers International (home base: Townshend, 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 under served communities across the world.

Joseph Swensen was born on 4 August 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).

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