SwensenMusicHouse was miraculous. Very special, very special. Indescribable. You must come. You must – really, you must come!
Michel Giboureau - Oboist/Teacher. Paris, France
I just finished a performance of Mahler 5 with Joseph Swensen conducting the Granada Orchestra leaving us all with deeply grateful feelings that the world has become a more beautiful and rich place to live in. After sharing this wonderful week of rehearsing and performing I feel deeply grateful to have played with a conductor such as Joseph ! I feel that he understands his role in the Orchestra as the "door-opener" to the present moment, and he is so honest and true in his gestures. Joseph's conducting seems to me a realization of an ideal, that the conductor is the "centered" person in the center of an orchestra modeling the mind-set he hopes to influence the orchestra with, knowing somehow that it will result in a transcendent experience for everyone. In his conducting workshops the players in the ensemble all take turns conducting for each other, giving all participants the possibility to experience the music from different points of view, which is a great benefit for both ones playing and conducting. This model also brings us in touch with the common roots we all share, the essence of being Human, a feeling beyond words. Thanks Joseph for the inspiring week!
Friedemann Breuninger - Violinist - Concertmaster of Orquesta Ciudad de Granada
Ever since I met Joseph Swensen in 2010 he has become an important musical influence and mentor to me. Both as a violinist and a conductor Joseph is a musician of rare communicative power and magnitude. He is simply one of the greatest musicians with whom I have had the honor to work. I was fortunate to be part of the fantastic Total Immersions in Townshend, VT for four consecutive summers as a conducting student. It was a truly transformative experience. Joseph’s method is very interesting. He works with the student without sound, first imagining the sound and trying to get the ideal interpretation in the mind while incorporating it in the movement of the body. Only at the end of the workshop the conductor gets to work with the ensemble. Joseph’s teaching is very intuitive and tailored to each student’s individuality. In addition to music, the house is in a gorgeous setting, surrounded with rivers and forest and is both inspiring and relaxing. There was a wonderful chef cooking delicious food every day. On a personal note, Joseph and Vicki, who is a terrific horn player, are very generous and kind people. I can’t recommend this workshop highly enough to any aspiring musician!
Roman Robinovich - Pianist/Visual Artist
Studying with Joseph Swensen was a completely unique experience for me. He possesses, on top of incredible violin and conducting talents (a very rare combination) a true love for teaching and transmitting. The lessons I took have helped me greatly in the comprehension and execution both on the violin and as a conductor, and having watched his lessons I can assert that he adapts himself to students that represents wide variety of levels, ages and cultures with great efficiency. Maestro Swensen lives in a harbor of peace, nature and music in Vermont. I have spent many days there in the past, and I'm looking forward spending more time there in the future.
Yaïr Benaïm - Conductor/Violinist Paris, France
Joseph Swensen's mentorship has enriched my life immeasurably, and as a performer and teacher myself, I have been able to give to others what I have discovered, thanks to the environment of the Vermont house and the generosity of its mentors - Joseph and Vicki Swensen. The beautiful and inviting old house offers peace, space to create and rich natural beauty. It is possible to get closer to the music there than in any other environment I have known. Being there is something I look forward to all year. I cannot recommend it highly enough!
Feargus Hetherington - Violinist/Violist
My lessons with Joseph Swensen were directed to the very essence of Music. It's all about connecting. Inevitably it lead to the biggest mystery, the essence of who we are as human beings. I didn't come home with an answer to that mystery , but I felt that I had traveled a great distance forward in my life as a musician and as a person! My grandfather said in an interview in the 60': " Any artist need at some point a retreat. Having the possibility to be alone with himself, alone with Nature." I saw this black and white footage when I was a kid in the 90', and experienced it in 2014 in Townsend, VT with Joseph Swensen. After the Total Immersion weeks I had my view on music changed, clarified and amplified. Joseph and Vicki set a magical atmosphere where respect and love is the starting point. Time there is passing in a soft way, days are fully used, there is no empty gap because everything flow in harmony, from breakfast to class - study - chatting - play music - studying some more - help others, to dinner and late sight reading sessions…. Like if nothing could stop creativity or working energy. It suddenly all make sense, in this beautiful XVIII century house in the green mountains of Vermont.
Yorrick Troman - Vioinist - Concertmaster of Navarra (Spain) Orquesta. Member of French trio Les Tromano
I have had the great privilege of studying music with Joseph Swensen for more than three years. In these years he has taught me and coached me in violin, conducting, and chamber music. I have learned much from him both technically and musically. But most valuable is how he has grown me as an artist and taught me how to think for myself. This has enabled me to have the power to begin to solve technical and musical problems on my own. He teaches with passion and sensitivity. I feel I have truly begun a lifetime of growth as an artist through his patient teaching. I have also had the addition privilege of studying and living with Professor Swensen at his Vermont house for two weeks last summer. This was an incredible opportunity to focus solely on music while living in beautiful location. The historic old mansion and beautiful Vermont hills help create an environment to think and engage with musical freely and intensely. I would recommend this experience to any level of musician who wants to grow their love and understanding of music.
Dan Galat - Violinist
Joseph Swensen has been my teacher and a mentor for past 3 years andbecause of his teachings, I have developed as a much better musician and a person. He is extremely caring and his style of teaching is never intrusive, or stressful. His genuine sincerity provides very peaceful learning process, yet very productive. He is very gentle and efficient with his words and uniquely imaginative when it comes to music. In terms of teaching technique, he simplifies fundamental concepts to understand how to play the violin in long term, not just how to play a piece of music. His teachings are as quality as his performances, and just like his performances, I was always left inspired and encouraged after my lessons. Also, the physical environment in Vermont is one of the most calm and peaceful place I have ever been. Being in such natural environment, I was able to get away from all the chaotic things happening in real world and that really enabled me to learn at my full potential. Truly a rejuvenating experience. I would recommend Joseph Swensen as a teacher to any serious violinist or conductor who is starving to learn from a very experienced musician who really cares about his students as a musician and a human being.
Kyle Chung - Violinist
I had the great pleasure of participating in four summers of the Total Immersion program at SwensenMusicHouse. Spending time in the space that Joey and Vicki have so lovingly created is a unique experience where one can breathe, slow things down, and in a very natural way focus on what is in front of them: great music and a collection of individuals that always bring a vast and varied array of contributions to the table. Joseph Swensen's tireless dedication to guiding and inspiring the participants is jaw-dropping. What really stood out to me was how well he is able to see the human in front of him, rather than the violin student or conducting student, meaning that he addressed everyone in a way that is tailored to their character and their needs, and that is amazing to see. Vicki's generosity and warmth, not to mention her incredible musicianship, make the atmosphere at Total Immersion very hard to leave behind, every time.
Mihai Marica - Cellist
Professor Swensen gave me lessons every day for 10 days and I learned, memorized and performed the Bach Chaconne! I was really nervous because I had just 10 days to learn it for the first Strings Showcase here at IU. I thought it was impossible but he gave me lots of courage. His dedication made it possible. At first, He taught me about the structure of Chaconne and I focused on memorizing. His interpretation was surprising to me and I really agreed with him. Then, I got more confidence every day. Eventually, memory was not a problem any more. Finally, he focused more on expression, phrasing, and how to make different sounds or textures. Every day Professor Swensen gave me lessons with new comments on technique and inspiration. Finally I performed on the showcase with success. I really appreciate Professor Swensen. I never imagined it is possible to learn and perform Chaconne in such a short time.
Ji Eun Yoo - Violinist, Graduate Student at Jacobs School
Joseph Swensen is the most natural and gentle teacher I have had the pleasure of meeting, combining insightful observational powers with an unthreatening manner, making it an utter joy to be under his tutelage. His incredible experiences as conductor, soloist and composer all contribute to his exquisite musical knowledge which he effortlessly imparts on anyone he can. His method for teaching conducting is by his own admission 'unconventional'. He works with his students mostly in silence, encouraging his pupils to form an individual musical conception for each piece. This requires perfect knowledge of the score. At his lessons he helps one develop a vocabulary of gestures and motions which most naturally communicate the sounds in the student's head.
Joe Standly - Bass Player (Student Royal Academy of Scotland)
I met Joey Swensen in 2010. Joey is a force of nature. Every encounter I am lucky enough to have with him changes me - in ways I can't always even grasp. As a performer, whether playing or conducting, he is arresting, courageous, a magnificent miracle to behold. As a teacher, mentor, friend, and human being, he inspires me beyond words. To search always, to dare in my dreams, to see no limits to my musical palate and musical life. Joey and Vicki both are a team that encourages their students, like family, and also pushes them. They are always honest and this is something not to take lightly. I have found in my studies that true honesty can be difficult for both student and teacher, because it is difficult to be completely honest while nurturing and guiding the student toward the proper path, maintaining extreme sensitivity to each individual. Joey and Vicki are always there if I need anything, and they are always there with warmth, earnest curiosity, and completely pure intentions. They care about music and they care about human beings. They approach everything with love, compassion, wisdom. I feel incredibly thankful to have encountered Joey and Vicki and for the long lasting friendship, musical and personal, that has unfolded.
Michelle Ross - Violinist
SwensenMusicHouse is a professional musicians Nirvana, where overwhelming inspiration from Joey (Swensen) and loving guidance and encouragement from Vicki ( Swensen) are combined, resulting in a profound transformation in musicality and newfound confidence in our artistry and position in this competitive world.
Paul Medd - Violinist, Royal Scottish National Orchestra
I had the pleasure of being at SwensenMusicHouse for one of the most delicious weeks of my life, and I don't just mean the food (which really was quite outstanding). The dedication of purpose by the founders is what stands outmost in my mind, but also the collegiality and talent of the staff and participants. Across a remarkably wide range of age and experience, there was nevertheless a common standard of excellence that was quite astonishing.... I was utterly unprepared when I discovered (Joseph Swensen's) talent not only as a conductor, but his ability to teach conducting, to get at the heart of what a conductor needs to be doing up there in front of an orchestra and to convey that to students in an expressive and efficient way. Our chamber performance of Brahms's 2nd Symphony, with which we ended the week, will remain with me as one of the most exciting musical experiences of my life. Really!
Cellist and Author
Member, New York City Opera
Associate Professor of Music History, Drew University
Faculty, Bennington Chamber Music Conference
The visionary seminars at SwensenMusicHouse in Vermont created by Vicki and Joseph Swensen are among the most meaningful experiences I have ever had. First of all, studying conducting with Joey is a profound privilege. Devoid of all pedantry that occasionally mars conducting pedagogy, my lessons with Joey have first and foremost helped me to become a better musician, providing not only great inspiration and insights into the masterworks we explore but also guidance through a terrifying and wonderful process of self-discovery.... His unique approach which truly tailors to the individual has helped me find infinite new ideas and has changed the way I hear, feel, think, and move in music. One of the outstanding aspects of the SwensenMusicHouse seminars is the diversity of the environment. Musicians of every age, background, and level enjoy making music together....the great love Vicki and Joey bring to what they do ensures a haven of great energy, positivity, and encouragement, which for me personally has been crucial in overcoming the frightening first steps of conducting.
Adam Golka - Concert Pianist, frequent participant Marlboro Festival
Being at SwensenMusicHouse was amazing and the food too! The house was very close to a river. There was chipmunks, butterflies, beavers etc. In the garden 5 minutes away there was a store where we could buy all things. I had lessons every single day. It could be with, Joseph or Vicki or others. Sometimes I had a lesson with someone, who doesn’t played the same instrument as I do. Sometimes I had a lesson with pianist or cellist. And I really liked that! We also played lots of chamber music. We played Schoenberg and Schubert. When it was evening we played mini ’concerts’. You didn't needed to play, but you could do it, if you wanted to. If you didn’t wanted to play, you could just listen to. Some times we was going to a river for swimming. On the last day we was on a nice picnic.
Mira Belolli – Violinist Age 12, Copenhagen, Denmark
SwensenMusicHouse is place where you make music, and very good music. Of course it sounds simple to say it that way. The place is indeed a large, comfortable 18th century house, surrounded by woods in Townshend, Vermont ; the welcome is a warm one, made to encourage fine musical expression. But SwensenMusicHouse is more than that. It’s a magic place where for the Total Immersion seminar, twenty-some participants get together each year – string players, pianists, conductors and wind players, young and not so young, professors and students, confirmed artists and amateurs – to enjoy a musical experience from morning ‘til night, with total and friendly sharing. Joseph and his wife Vicki Swensen are the souls of SwensenMusicHouse where each of us brings more intensity to our music day after day. While the daily task consists of discovering and studying the works chosen as the theme for the session, the evenings allow everyone to express themselves during improvised chamber music concerts, or during discussions on various musical subjects. All of these exchanges are rich, and the atmosphere is both passionate and warm. The last evenings are dedicated to the orchestral works studied during the session ; each of the would-be conductors tries, following Joseph’s example, to bring the music to life while continually demanding more of each of the participants in the "SwensenMusicHouse Chamber Orchestra".
Michel Giboureau - Former Second Oboe, Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, France
I try to find words but words are just not good enough!....This is not a place of competition, you can find that anywhere! SwensenMusicHouse is a place of learning more about yourself as a person and a musician with others that are just as passionate about their art. My only hope is that I can return to SwensenMusicHouse as soon as possible!...I can't express enough how much my experience there has impacted me. I constantly remind myself of those days!
Jonathan Yu - Violin Student, Age 24
Joseph Swensen's coachings are just the most inspiring thing! Probably the best week of my life. It’s really incredible. People came here just for the sake of learning and playing and exchanging ideas. It’s very rare, I think. I never saw anything like that, and the group of people here is just the most wonderful, wonderful people.
Roman Rabinovich - Pianist/Visual Artist/Budding Conductor, Israel
I’ve learnt more about music in the last week at SwensenMusicHouse than I have in the whole rest of my life. It just had everything that one would want, and it’s one of the best things I’ve done with my whole life, so I hope that this isn’t the last time I’ll be able to attend.
Carolyn Hoffman - Complex Lymphatic Therapist/Music Lover/Amateur Flautist, South Africa
I’ve had an absolutely wonderful time here at SwensenMusicHouse in Vermont and we’ve become such a family and I’m going to miss everyone so much. We played great music every day and I just loved every bit of it, and I’ve even cried a lot because everything was so beautiful, and I’ll definitely come back.
Kirstine Schneider - Violinist/Student, Denmark
I really appreciated that learning overwhelmed everything – conducting, theory, chamber music. Joey and Vicki are the best musicians in the world and they’re so unique and individual, and it’s very very important, especially for young musicians, to have such good influences. I loved SwensenMusicHouse.
Cheryl Wells - Violinist/Teacher/Budding Conductor, USA