Cellist Benjamin Swartz has concertized extensively in the United States and Europe with particular emphasis on historically-informed performance and contemporary performance practice. Equally at home on cello, Baroque cello, and viola da gamba, he has gained increasing recognition for multi-instrumental virtuosity spanning the Ars Subtilior to the present day. Currently a resident of Boston’s North Shore, he performs as cellist with many ensembles throughout New England and teaches at Endicott College, Bridgewater State University, Governor's Academy, Waring School, and Ipswich Public Schools.
As an advocate for 20th- and 21st-century music, Ben’s meticulous interpretations of contemporary classical music spanning Anton Webern to Iannis Xenakis have garnered significant praise and attention. Notable performances have included a European tour of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s “Inori” with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, the microtonal string quartets of Ben Johnston at the Boston Microtonal Society, and the British premieres of Nikolai Kapustin’s complete piano trios. As a recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestral player, these performances have taken him around the world to concert halls such as Philharmonie de Paris, Berliner Philharmonie, KKL Luzern, Hamburg's Elbphilharmonie, Kölner Philharmonie, Duke’s Hall at the Royal Academy of Music in London, Kennedy Center, Kimmel Center, Boston's Symphony Hall, and Ozawa Hall (Tanglewood). Most recently, Ben is principal cellist of Symphony by the Sea (Beverly, MA) and The Orchestra On The Hill (Ipswich, MA), with highlights of his 2021-22 season including performances and recording projects with the Lyric Stage Company of Boston, Callithumpian Consort, Marsh Chapel Collegium, and the Grammy-winning Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP).
For six seasons, Ben was cellist with the Sound Energy trio, a dynamic string trio which explored the energy of sound through the commission and performance of works by living American composers. Sound Energy commissioned dozens of new works for string trio with the assistance of grants from New Music USA and the Boston Cultural Council. Sound Energy led residencies at Dartmouth College and Temple University where they workshopped new works by undergraduate composition students. Among the ensemble’s many projects was a revival of Marti Epstein’s puppet opera “Hero and Leander,” the complete chamber works of Jeffrey Mumford, recordings of Andrew Norman and Giacinto Scelsi’s string trios, and a world premiere of Daniel Miller’s towering “Teller Light” for amplified string trio and live electronics using novel animated score notation.
As a veteran studio recording artist, Ben has more than fifty film, video game, and anime soundtrack credits to his name. This wide discography includes soundtracks for franchises such as Final Fantasy, Tomb Raider, Kingdom Hearts, Made in Abyss, Dragon Marked for Death, and Rising of the Shield Hero. He can be heard in albums with bands and ensembles as diverse as Bent Knee, the Video Game Orchestra, Ben Levin Group, The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, East Coast Scoring, and Tredici Bacci. Ben recorded the complete Cello Suites by Benjamin Britten and can be heard on the Sony, Centaur, and BMOP/Sound labels.
Originally hailing from Richmond, VA, Ben is an honors graduate of the double-degree program at Johns Hopkins University (BA/MA, American history) and Peabody Conservatory (BMus, cello), where he was a recipient of both the Peabody Career Grant and the Woodrow Wilson Undergraduate Research Fellowship. As a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, he studied the historically-informed performance practice of the Bach Cello Suites with Anner Bijlsma and Pieter Wispelweij on period and modern instruments, respectively, in Amsterdam, Holland. Ben later earned his postgraduate degree at the Royal Academy of Music in London (MMus with merit in cello and historical performance) where he was awarded the Nancy Nuttall Early Music Prize. Following his studies in London, Ben was honored as a Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst Stipendiat (DAAD Scholar, 2013-14), where he lived in Karlsruhe, Germany, and researched music theory [proportional ratio systems of extended Just Intonation]. His festival credits include Aspen, Tanglewood, Kneisel Hall, London Master Classes, Lucerne, Aurora, and Manchester, and he has studied chamber music with members of the Juilliard, Brentano, Shanghai, Amaryllis, and Fauré quartets. Ben's major teachers have been Alison Wells and John Moran in Baltimore, Mats Lidström and Jonathan Manson in London, and Anner Bijlsma and Pieter Wispelweij in Amsterdam.
A much sought-after teacher and clinician on Boston’s North Shore, Ben currently serves on the cello and chamber music faculties at Endicott College, Bridgewater State University, Governor's Academy, Waring School, and Ipswich Public Schools. He coaches chamber music with the Northern Massachusetts Youth Orchestra, and during the summer he leads courses in viola da gamba and Baroque cello at the Early Music Week workshop at the World Fellowship Center. In the past, Ben has been a faculty member at South Shore Conservatory, Community Music Center of Boston, Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (SICPP) at New England Conservatory, and Killington Chamber Music Festival. With an expertise in both performance and pedagogy, he has combined these skill sets as artist-in-residence with the Martha's Vineyard Chamber Music Society and the University of Trinidad and Tobago's National Academy of Performing Arts. He teaches from a method book of his own authorship, The Essential Technology of the Cello: A Textbook of the Efficient Cellist (2016).
Ben lives in Ipswich, MA, where he teaches in the Rindge-Pinder-Leatherland house (1718) in a quiet New England village by the sea.