Joseph Swensen

Conductor Emeritus

SWENSON Joseph Conductor Emeritus

Joseph Swensen is Conductor Emeritus of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Orquesta Ciudad de Granada and Artistic Partner of the Northwest Sinfonietta (USA). Sharing his time between conducting and violin playing, Swensen is also Professor of Music (violin) at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and has been appointed Visiting Professor (violin) at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He has previously served as Principal Guest Conductor & Artistic Adviser of the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris (2009-2012), Principal Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (1996-2005) and Principal Conductor of the Malmö Opera (2005-2011). He enjoys long-established relationships with the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Orchestre National de Bordeaux, London Mozart Players, and Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música. He has appeared at the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York, Tanglewood and Ravinia Festivals, the BBC Proms, the Barbican (London) and the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam). 

Recognized for forging solid bonds with orchestras, this season will see Joseph Swensen appearing with his closest partners, the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse with which he will continue his exploration of Bruckner, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Orquesta Ciudad de Granada, Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música and Northwest Sinfonietta. New collaborations will include the Estonian Symphony Orchestra and the Wroclaw Chamber Orchestra.

Joseph Swensen has also recently returned to the concert platform as a violin soloist and appearances have included the Colorado Symphony and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, while in the 2016/17 season he will appear with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Oregon symphony. The violinist and conductor naturally meet in the art of play-direct. With a special interest in exploring and developing this art, Swensen has extended the repertoire far beyond the classical period, directing from the violin concertos by composers such as Brahms, Barber and Prokofiev. His series of recordings for Linn Records featuring Brahms, Mendelssohn and Prokofiev’s second concerto, with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra were internationally acclaimed. With the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, Swensen created the first ‘Paris Play-Direct Academy’ in May 2011.

An active chamber musician, Swensen regularly performs with the American pianist and conductor Jeffrey Kahane, and the piano trio KahaneSwensenBrey together with cellist Carter Brey. 

A multifaceted musician, as a composer 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 Sinfonia-Concertante for Horn and Orchestra (The Fire and the Rose) (2008).  Swensen's Sinfonia in B (2007), an orchestration of the rarely performed 1854 version of Brahms' Trio Op. 8, has been recorded for Signum Records.

Joseph and Victoria Swensen are the founders of Habitat4Music, a non-profit organization devoted to establishing participatory music education programs for children in underserved areas world-wide.

An American of Norwegian and Japanese descent, Joseph Swensen was born in Hoboken, New Jersey and grew up in Harlem, New York City.