Commissioned by the Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker, New York Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Iceland Symphony Orchestra. World premiere performance 29 January 2021 by Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Kirill Petrenko at the Philharmonie, Berlin.

Winner of the Ivors Composer Award for Large Scale Composition 2021

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  • 20 min
    • 16th February 2025, Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany
    • 3rd April 2025, Casino, Bern, Switzerland
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Programme Note

The core inspiration behind CATAMORPHOSIS is the fragile relationship we have to our planet. The aura of the piece is characterized by the orbiting vortex of emotions and the intensity that comes with the fact that if things do not change it is going to be too late, risking utter destruction – catastrophe. The core of the work revolves around a distinct sense of urgency, driven by the shift and pull between various polar forces – power and fragility, hope and despair, preservation and destruction.

The relationship between inspiration and the pure musical feeling and methods, for me, tends to shift at a certain point in the creative process of every work. The core inspiration provides the initial energy and structural elements to a piece and then the music starts to breathe on its own and expand. In CATAMORPHOSIS this point in the process became more apparent and tangible as it aligned with an event that has had such dramatic impact on our lives and reality. The notion of emergency was already integrated into the music and to counterbalance that a sense of hope and belief. The meditative state of being needed to gain focus in order to sustain and maintain the globally important elements in life also became increasingly important and provided another layer to the inspiration.

CATAMORPHOSIS is quite a dramatic piece, but it is also full of hope – perhaps somewhere between the natural and the unnatural, between utopia and dystopia, we can gain perspective and find balance within and with the world around us.

— Anna Thorvaldsdottir


Anna Thorvaldsdottir: CATAMORPHOSIS



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