A native of New York, violinist Ian Swensen comes from a musically gifted family of Norwegian and Japanese-Hawaiian descent. He has lived in the Bay Area for over 20 years, teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Sacramento State University. He is a passionate pedagogue and his students have gone on to major positions in orchestras, teaching institutions and chamber groups around the world.
Swensen also maintains an active schedule as soloist and chamber musician, appearing at Music@Menlo, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society and others. Recent projects include a series of recitals with pianist Jeffrey LaDeur, Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat with members of the San Francisco Symphony and a series of Haydn trios with Kenneth Slowik on fortepiano. Over the years other engagements have included Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds, Music from Marlboro, residencies at Tanglewood, Banff, Morningside Music Bridge in Calgary and travels to Asia, Europe, Australia and New Zealand to teach and perform. He has performed with members of the Juilliard, Cleveland, Emerson, Takács, Concord and Tokyo quartets, as well as Menahem Pressler, Gilbert Kalish, Mark O'Connor and Yo-Yo Ma.
Swensen studied at The Juilliard School with Dorothy DeLay and the Eastman School of Music with Donald Weilerstein and members of the Cleveland Quartet. In addition, Mark Sokol of the Concord Quartet has had a profound impact on his musical growth. He is one of the few musicians to have been awarded the Walter W. Naumburg International Competition’s top prize for both solo violin and chamber music (as first violinist of the Meliora String Quartet). His recordings can be found on the Telarc and Deutsche Grammophon labels.