Peter Swendsen ’99

  • Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
  • Professor of Computer Music and Digital Arts
  • Co-Chair of Musical Studies


  • BM, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, 1999
  • MFA, Mills College Center for Contemporary Music, 2001
  • PhD, University of Virginia, 2008
  • Fulbright Fellow, NoTAM Computer Music Studios, Oslo, Norway, 2006-07


Peter Swendsen’s music has been called “highly skillful” by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, “marvelous” by the San Francisco Chronicle, and “ethereal and arresting” by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Swendsen’s compositions have been heard throughout the United States, much of Europe, and also in South America and Asia in recent years. His research on soundscape composition, interdisciplinary performance practice, and interactive technologies has been presented and published by SEAMUS, ICMC, NIME, EMS, and others in the US and Europe. His most recent writing examines the relationship between electroacoustic music and contemporary dance.

  • Fulbright Fellowship (2006-07)
  • University of Virginia Jefferson Scholars Graduate Fellowship (2002-06) and Faculty Senate Dissertation Fellowship (2006)
  • Honorable Mention (2006), Música Viva Electroacoustic Composition Competition, Portugal
  • Society of Composers/ASCAP Region III Student Commission Contest Winner (2004 and 2006)
  • IAWM Congress Graduate Student Scholarship Recipient (2006)
  • ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award Finalist (2005)
  • Robert J. Huskey Travel Fellowship (2003 and 2005)
  • Finalist (2004), Confluencias Electro-Acoustic Miniatures Contest, Spain
  • University of Virginia Raven Fellowship Grant Recipient (2004)
  • Elizabeth Mills Crouthers Composition Prize (2001)

  • Prospect Dance Group (cofounder and coartistic director)
  • Society of Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States (assistant editor of Journal SEAMUS)
  • International Computer Music Association
  • Society of Composers (former Executive Committee member and webmaster)
  • Society for the Electronic Arts (ISEA)
  • Performance Studies International
  • International Alliance for Women in Music
  • College Art Association
  • American Composers Forum
  • College Music Society 
  • Fulbright Alumni Association

  • Every Second (2007): evening-length, stereophonic tape for dance
  • Tomorrow will be 5m 21s shorter (2006): for stereophonic tape
  • Any Way the Wind (2006): for tenor recorder and stereophonic tape
  • Interlude 1 (2006): for extended piano and stereophonic tape
  • a sudden change in the consistency of snow (2006): for alto sax, stereophonic tape, and video
  • The Beggar’s Table (2005): evening-length, piano and stereophonic tape for dance
  • Shaking Leaves (2005): for percussion quartet
  • A Sort of Explanation (2004): evening-length tape, saxophone, and video score for dance
  • Song for Circular Space (2004): for octophonic tape
  • Little Girl Lost (2003): stereophonic tape, violin, and live processing for dance
  • Preparations No. 3 (2003): for amplified prepared piano and stereophonic tape

*This is a partial listing

  • San Francisco, ODC Theater: Mary Carbonara Dances (6/07): Every Second
  • Boston: Cyber Arts Festival (4/07): a sudden change in the consistency of snow
  • New Orleans: ICMC 2006 (11/06): a sudden change in the consistency of snow
  • Cologne, Germany: SoundLab 4 (10/06): Little Girl Lost
  • Lisbon, Portugal: Música Viva Festival (9/06): Song for Circular Space
  • Santiago, Chile: LAIM + CECh + RedAsla Cycle (9/06): Lament upon Waking
  • Atlantic Center for the Arts, Florida: Inside/Out (6/06): Interlude 1
  • Seoul, Korea: Seoul International Computer Music Festival (11/05): Preparations No. 1
  • Montreal: Mid-autumn Moon Festival (9/05): Song for Circular Space
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina: Sonoimagenes,  (8/05): Preparations No. 1
  • San Francisco, ODC Theater: Mary Carbonara Dances (6/05): The Beggar’s Table & Deflecting Faith
  • Huelva, Spain:  Confluencias VI (5/05): Preparations No. 1
  • Paris, France: Music from the VCCM (3/05): Lament upon Waking
  • Miami: ICMC 2004 (11/04): Preparations No. 3 
  • Kansas City: Electronic Music Midwest (10/03): Preparations No. 3
  • Calcutta, India: American Dance Showcase (10/03): Picture Me Running
  • San Francisco: SummerFest Dance Festival (7/03): Little Girl Lost
  • Bratislave, Slovakia: Sonorities of Interactive Acoustics (5/03): Preparations No. 3
  • Venice, Italy: Risonanze 2003 (5/03): Preparations No. 3

*This is a partial listing

  • “PAIR and WISEAR: Wireless Dance Interface.” (with David Topper); Journal SEAMUS (2006, v19.1)
  • CD and book reviews published in Computer Music Journal (MIT Press) and Journal SEAMUS
  • Presentations at Electroacoustic Music Studies Network (Leicester, UK), NoTAM Forum Lecture Series (Oslo, Norway), Nordic Music Technology Conference (Trondheim, Norway), Music and Gesture Conference (Manchester, UK), Biennial Arts and Technology Symposium (Connecticut College), International Alliance for Women in Music Congress (Miami), SEAMUS National Conferences, SCI National Conference, ICMC, NIME

*This is a partial listing

  • 60 x 60 2004-2005, Vox Novus Records (2007)
  • Steel Pan in the 21st Century, Quiet Design Records (2007)
  • Concurso Internacional de Miniatures Electroacousticas, Arsonal Records (2004)


Peter Swendsen Releases Allusions to Seasons and Weather

November 26, 2014

In May, Peter Swendsen released Allusions to Seasons and Weather, a new recording on the Oberlin Music label. To create the recording, Swendsen, an associate professor of computer music and digital arts in Oberlin’s TIMARA Department, devoted a year to studying soundscape composition and ecoacoustics as a Fulbright Fellow in Oslo, Norway.

For more information on Allusions to Seasons and Weather, click here.