Anna Thorvaldsdottir (b. 1977) is an Icelandic composer whose “seemingly boundless textural imagination” (NY Times) and “striking” (Guardian) sound world has made her “one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary music” (NPR). “Never less than fascinating” (Gramophone), her music is composed as much by sounds and nuances as by harmonies and lyrical material, and tends to evoke “a sense of place and personality” (NY Times) through a distinctive “combination of power and intimacy” (Gramophone). It is written as an ecosystem of sounds, where materials continuously grow in and out of each other, often inspired in an important way by nature and its many qualities, in particular structural ones, like proportion and flow. Anna’s works have been nominated and awarded on many occasions - most notably, her “confident and distinctive handling of the orchestra” (Gramophone) has garnered her the prestigious Nordic Council Music Prize, the New York Philharmonic's Kravis Emerging Composer Award, and Lincoln Center’s Emerging Artist Award and Martin E. Segal Award.
Anna's music is widely performed internationally and has been commissioned by many of the world's leading orchestras, ensembles, and arts organizations - such as the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, Ensemble Intercontemporain, and Carnegie Hall. Among the many other orchestras and ensembles that have performed her music include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London's Philharmonia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, NDR Elbphilharmonie, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Bang on a Can All-Stars, The Crossing, the Bavarian Radio Choir, Münchener Kammerorchester, Los Angeles Percussion Quartet, Avanti Chamber Ensemble, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic, CAPUT Ensemble, Yarn/Wire, Oslo Philharmonic, and Either/Or Ensemble. In April 2018, Esa-Pekka Salonen lead the New York Philharmonic in the premiere of Anna’s work METACOSMOS. The work received its European premiere with the Berlin Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert in January 2019, and its UK premiere at the BBC Proms 2019, conducted by Edward Gardner. Anna’s symphony-scale AION was premiered by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in May 2019, conducted by Anna-Maria Helsing. Her new orchestral work CATAMORPHOSIS will be premiered by the Berlin Philharmonic and Kirill Petrenko in January 2021.
Portrait concerts with Anna's music have been featured at several major venues and music festivals, including Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival in NYC, the Composer Portraits Series at NYC's Miller Theatre, the Leading International Composers series at the Phillips Collection in Washington DC, Knoxville's Big Ears Festival, Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, Brooklyn's National Sawdust, London's Spitalfields Music Festival, Münchener Kammerorchester's Nachtmusic der Moderne series, and Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra's Point Festival. Other venues include the BBC Proms, ISCM World Music Days, Nordic Music Days, Ultima Festival, Lucerne Summer Festival, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Reykjavik Arts Festival, Tectonics, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Helsinki's Musica Nova Festival, and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.
Anna is currently based in the London area. She regularly teaches and gives presentations on composition, in academic settings, as part of residencies, and in private lessons. Invited lectures and presentations include Stanford, Columbia, Cornell, NYU, Northwestern, Sibelius Academy, and the Royal Academy of Music in London. In spring 2019, she was Composer-in-Residence at the Royal Academy of Music and she is currently Composer-in-Residence with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Anna holds a PhD (2011) from the University of California in San Diego.
Bio by Anna Thorvaldsdottir; photo by Saga Sigurdardottir