Cellist Benjamin Swartz has concertized extensively in the United States and Europe with a particular emphasis on historically-informed performance, electroacoustic collaboration, and the exposure of neglected repertoire. 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, he performs as cellist with Sound Energy and teaches at South Shore Conservatory and the Community Music Center of Boston.
Highlights of the 2018-19 season include performances at Carnegie Hall, Berliner Philharmonie, Philharmonie de Paris, KKL Luzern, Lucerne Festival, and Sound Energy's residency at Temple University in Philadelphia.
As an advocate for 21st-century music, Ben performs regularly with Sound Energy, a dynamic string trio which commissions & performs works by living American composers. For its 2016-17 season, Sound Energy was awarded a New Music USA Grant with projects including five world premiere commissions, two portrait concerts of composers Marti Epstein and Jeffrey Mumford, and a short-term residency at Dartmouth College. Ben maintains close working relationships with many active composers, including Tom Williams, Tamar Diesendruck, Noam Faingold, Daniel T. Lewis, Daniel J. Miller, Alex Brusentsev, and Evan Kassof. Performances of electroacoustic repertoire include Tom Williams' "Dart" (2013) at the International Festival for Artistic Innovation in Leeds, the boombox works of Jacob ter Veldhuis, and a recent performance of Steve Reich's "Different Trains" in London. In the acoustic realm, Ben's London-based piano trio gave the British premieres of several works by Nikolai Kapustin, and he recorded the complete Cello Suites by Benjamin Britten to commemorate fifty years since the premiere of the First Suite in 1965. An active studio artist, he has two dozen film & video game soundtrack credits to his name, and has recorded albums with the Ben Levin Group, Bent Knee, and Tredici Bacci.
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 Johns Hopkins 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 lived in in Karlsruhe, Germany, as a Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst Stipendiat (DAAD Scholar, 2013-14) where he researched music theory (proportional ratio systems of extended Just Intonation) and performed as a chamber musician throughout Europe. Bringing his early music expertise from the Old World to the New, he currently performs on Baroque cello and viola da gamba with Les Enfants d'Orphée, an ensemble dedicated to promoting the rich repertoire of French Baroque cantata literature, as well as the Halfmoon Ensemble.
He has performed as a member of the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra, Atlantic Symphony, Baltimore Baroque Band, Boston Chinese Musicians Association, Boston Microtonal Society, Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), Bridgeport Symphony, East Coast Scoring, Equilibrium Ensemble, Hub New Music, Ibis Ensemble, Les Enfants d'Orpheé, Odyssey Opera, Orchestra of Indian Hill, Peabody Concert Orchestra, Royal Academy Symphony Orchestra, Royal Academy Viol Consort, Richmond Philharmonic Orchestra, Verdant Vibes, and the Video Game Orchestra (Boston) in venues such as Boston's Symphony Hall, the Duke's Hall at the Royal Academy, Philharmonie de Paris, Berliner Philharmonie, KKL Luzern, Hamburg's Elbphilharmonie, the Koelner Philharmonie (Cologne), the Kennedy Center, the Kimmel Center, and Ozawa Hall (Tanglewood). 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 in the Boston area, Ben currently serves on the cello and chamber music faculties at the Boston Center for the Arts' Community Music Center of Boston, South Shore Conservatory, Ipswich High School, Rockport High School, and as chamber music coach with the Northern Massachusetts Youth Orchestra. In 2016 Ben was invited as artist-in-residence to the University of Trinidad and Tobago's National Academy of Performing Arts. Former artist-faculty, Killington Chamber Music Festival in Rutland, Vermont. During the summers he performs at the Lucerne Festival (Switzerland) and teaches at the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (SICPP) at New England Conservatory. He teaches from a method book of his own authorship, The Essential Technology of the Cello: A Textbook of the Efficient Cellist (2016).