Joseph Swensen was appointed Principal Conductor of Malmö Opera in 2007 and his contract has recently been extended for a second term of three years, until the end of 2011. His past and future productions at Malmö Opera include La Bohème, Macbeth, La Fanciulla del West, Salomé, La Traviata and Vanessa

Joseph Swensen was principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra from 1996-2005. When he relinquished this post in September 2005, he was invited to become the orchestra’s Conductor Emeritus. Swensen and the SCO have toured extensively in the US, Far East, Spain, Portugal. They have performed 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 made a series of recordings for Linn records, including music by Mendelssohn, Sibelius, Brahms, Prokofiev and Dvorak. The Prokofiev recording features Swensen’s own orchestration of the composer's Cinq Melodies. His enthusiasm for new music has resulted in many major works written for both him and the SCO by such composers as James MacMillan, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Sally Beamish, Karin Rehnqvist and Elenor Alberga.

Swensen has a number of regular guest conducting commitments including Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, London Mozart Players, Hallé, BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre National de Montpellier, Netherlands Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta de la Ciudad de Granada and Orquestra Nacional do Porto. With the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse he is conducting a Mahler cycle which will culminate in a performance of the 9th symphony in 2011, the centenary of Mahler’s death.

Before deciding to dedicate himself solely to his conducting career, Swensen enjoyed a highly successful career as a violin soloist and was an exclusive recording artist with BMG. Nowadays his occasional appearances as soloist are a natural extension of his work as a conductor, playing and directing concerti with the SCO and other orchestras with whom he enjoys a particularly close relationship. His love of chamber music results in occasional performances in that genre as well; for example in Oct 07 he performed at the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society in New York. Swensen is also active as a composer. Works include Mantram (1998) for string orchestra, Latif (1999) for solo cello with chamber ensemble, and Shizue (2001) for solo shakuhachi and orchestra. Swensen's orchestration of the rarely performed 1854 version of Brahms' Trio Op. 8, a work he has entitled Sinfonia in B, has been premiered by orchestras in Europe and the US during the 2007/08 season. A new work - Symphony for Horn and Orchestra, The Fire and the Rose - written for Radovan Vlatkovic, and inspired by T.S. Elliot’s Four Quartets, will be premiered by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in April 2009.

Joseph Swensen was born in 1960 in New York (an American, of Norwegian-Japanese descent) he lives with his family in Copenhagen, Denmark

This biography was most recently edited by...
maestro - 14 Aug 2009