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IU Jacobs School of Music appoints violinist, composer and conductor Joseph Swensen to faculty

April 17, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music is pleased to announce the appointment of violinist and conductor Joseph Swensen as visiting professor of music (violin). He will join the faculty in the fall of 2013.

Joseph Swensen

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"A musician with immense breadth, global experience, significant artistic achievement and a passion for arts advocacy, Joseph Swensen will have an immediate impact on the education of our students and upon the environment of our school," said Jacobs Dean Gwyn Richards.

"I am thrilled and profoundly honored to be joining the illustrious faculty of Indiana University, and I look forward so much to making Bloomington my home," said Swensen.

Swensen currently holds the post of conductor emeritus of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. His wide-ranging career recently included the position of principal guest conductor and artistic adviser of the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris.

As an exclusive recording artist with BMG Classics, his recordings of the major violin concerto repertoire with conductors like Andre Previn and Jukka-Pekka Saraste received high acclaim.

He is a chamber musician, composer and founder of Unity Hills Arts Centers International, an organization that brings together artists who apply their creative talents to long-term community service projects.

"Joseph Swensen comes to us with a world-class professional profile. This is an exciting hire, and the faculty is very pleased to know that he will be with us soon," said Stephen Wyrczynski, chair of the Jacobs String Department.

Born in Hoboken, N.J.., and raised in Harlem by a Japanese-American mother and a Norwegian-American father, both of whom are musicians, Swensen enjoyed a highly successful career as a solo violinist and chamber musician before turning to conducting.

He attended Juilliard as a student of renowned pedagogue Dorothy Delay and studied chamber music with Robert Mann, Leonard Rose and Felix Galimir. He studied composition with David Diamond and Vincent Persechetti, and studied privately with Isaac Stern over a 10-year period.

A winner of the Leventritt Foundation Award, Swensen appeared as soloist with orchestras such as Cleveland, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Montreal, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Baltimore, and performed in recital and chamber music concerts at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center, and in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston.

A passionate chamber musician, Swensen performs in recital with pianist Jeffrey Kahane, and with his newly formed trio -- alongside Kahane and cellist Carter Brey -- appears in summer 2013 at the La Jolla, Chamber Music Northwest, Music@ Menlo, Ravinia and Orcas Island festivals.

Swensen was principal guest conductor and artistic adviser of the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris from 2009 to 2012, principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra from 1996 to 2005 (during which time he received an honorary doctorate from St. Andrews University), principal Conductor of the Malmö Opera from 2007 to 2011 and principal guest conductor of the Lahti Symphony and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

As principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, he and the orchestra toured extensively in the U.S., U.K., Europe and the Far East, appearing at such prestigious venues as the Mostly Mozart Festival, Tanglewood and Ravinia festivals, the BBC Proms, the Barbican and the Concertgebouw.

Swensen and the orchestra recorded a highly regarded series of CDs for Linn records on which he is featured as violin soloist as well as conductor.

As principal conductor of the Malmö Opera in Sweden, he was widely recognized as the driving force behind the Malmö Opera's transformation into one of the most important opera companies in Sweden.

As an active guest conductor, Swensen has worked with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Toronto, St. Louis, Rochester, Colorado and New World symphonies, among others in North America. He has also worked with the London Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra (London), City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Halle Orchestra, Oslo and Stockholm Philharmonics and the Orchestre du Capitole deToulouse (where he recently completely his first Mahler Symphony cycle) and the Finnish and Swedish Radio Orchestras, among many others in Europe. Among his numerous appearances as guest conductor and soloist during the 2013-14 season will be an appearance as guest conductor of the London Philharmonic.

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 recently premiered "Sinfonia-Concertante for Horn and Orchestra" ("The Fire and the Rose") (2008). His orchestration of the rarely performed 1854 version of Brahms' Trio Op. 8, a work Swensen titled "Sinfonia in B," has been performed widely by orchestras in Europe and the U.S. since its première in 2007. In early 2012, the world premiere 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.

Swensen is the founder and artistic director of Unity Hills Arts Centers International (home base in Townshend, Vt.). The organization was established in 2011 to bring together artists of all kinds who are committed to applying their creative talents primarily to long-term community service projects in the U.S. and abroad.

Swensen is the proud father of three sons and has residences in Copenhagen, New York City, Florida, Vermont and soon Bloomington, Ind.