Anna Thorvaldsdottir composer portrait in Reykjavik

Anna Thorvaldsdottir composer portrait in Reykjavik
Iceland Symphony Orchestra
© Iceland Symphony Orchestra

Iceland Symphony Orchestra celebrates its Composer in Residence Anna Thorvaldsdottir in two concerts focussing on her music on October 5 and 6. The performances in Reykjavik will be conducted by the orchestra’s Chief Conductor Eva Ollikainen.

The centrepiece of the first concert, which takes place in Harpa concert hall, is Thorvaldsdottir’s AIŌN (2018). The three-movement piece is her largest symphonic work to date and was inspired by the notion of being able to move freely in time and space.

Among the many wonders of Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s music — exquisitely honed timbres, an intricate play of shadow and light — perhaps the most mysterious is the way it can sound so static yet be in a state of constant (if sometimes glacial) change … This craftsmanship — a meticulous fusion of pacing, structure and coloring — is also at work in the three-movement “AION” … Thorvaldsdottir is incapable of writing music that doesn’t immediately transfix an open-eared listener.

— The New York Times, June 2023

The iconic Hallgrímskirkja church will be the atmospheric for the following day’s concert which combines Thorvaldsdottir's choral and orchestral music. The programme opens and closes with a pair of single-movement orchestral works, METACOSMOS (2017) and ARCHORA (2022). The Choir of Hallgrímskirkja and its conductor Steinar Logi Helgason will perform Thorvaldsdottir’s a cappella psalm setting Heyr þú oss á himnum á (Hear us in Heaven) (2005) and Ad Genua, which was originally composed for The Crossing choir in 2016. This concert was shortlisted by BBC Music Magazine in its round-up of international attractions taking place this autumn.

Further highlights of the 23/24 season include the French premiere of ARCHORA by the Orchestre de Paris and Klaus Mäkelä, as well as performances of Thorvaldsdottir’s music by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Aurora and at the Beijing Music Festival.

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