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The Nordic Council Music Prize 2012

07/06/2012 | By | Reply More

Music – Icelandic Composer Gets Nordic Council Music Prize

Anna Thorvaldsdóttir is honoured with the Nordic Council Music Prize 2012 for the work Dreaming - Photo: Hrafn Asgeirsson

Anna Thorvaldsdóttir is honoured with the Nordic Council Music Prize 2012 for the work Dreaming – Photo: Hrafn Asgeirsson

The Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdóttir wins the Nordic Council Music Prize 2012 for her work Dreaming

Classical musician Anna Thorvaldsdóttir will be the fifth Icelander to receive the Nordic Council Music Prize at a ceremony in Helsinki in November, as announced June 5. 2012, reports. She earned the prize for her composition work “Dreaming”.

The jury concluded that Dreaming opens the world of the symphony orchestra in an unusual and innovative manner. Its beginning and end is considered to have a timeless quality, forming a cycle reminiscent of Norse mythology and the mysticism of nature.

It is of course a great recognition and amazing but still a little unrealistic”, Anna said of the honor. Nature is an important factor in her music. “That is where the inspiration comes from but the music comes from the inside, naturally”.

Anna has written music since she was a child. “I always remember myself making songs and when I was I started writing music in notes. Since then I haven’t been able to stop and music just took over my life”.

The prize money is DKK 350,000 (ISK 7.6 million, USD 59,000, EUR 47,000) and will be granted to Anna at the ceremony in November.

Anna Thorvaldsdóttir (1977) is a prominent Icelandic composer who frequently works with large structures of sounds, whether written for instrumental ensembles, soloists, voices, or electronic mediums. Her music tends to portray a flowing world of sounds with an enigmatic lyrical atmosphere. Her passion for working with large sound worlds, that often reveal the presence of a vast variety of sustained sound materials, reflects her sense of imaginative listening to landscapes and nature.

Anna’s music is frequently performed in Europe and in the US, and has been featured at several major music festivals. Her works have been nominated and awarded on many occasions. Her chamber orchestra piece “Hrim” was awarded Composition of the Year at the Icelandic Music Awards 2011, as well as the International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition 2011. At the Icelandic Music Awards 2012, Anna was awarded Composer of the Year and her debut album Rhízōma was awarded Classical/Contemporary Album of the Year and now, Anna is the recipient of the Nordic Council Music Prize 2012 for her work “Dreaming“.

The Nordic Council Music Prize Adjudicating Committee says:
“Dreaming opens the sphere of the symphony orchestra in an unusual and innovative way. The beginning and end of the work flow freely without any indication of time, creating a cyclic understanding of time reminiscent of Nordic myths and the mysticism of nature. The music strives to bring the experience of chronological time to a stop – like in dreams.

In the old Norse sagas people enter into dialogue with nature through dreams. In dreams we use other languages and other senses. Dreams connect night and day, light and dark, and it is in the vision of dreams that people learn about death. The music is sensual and calm, but it can also surprise and be powerful and brutal.

With Dreaming Anna Thorvaldsdóttir has written herself into the Nordic orchestra tradition which derives its timbres both from electronic music and from the sounds of nature in Nordic folk music. The tones are carefully depicted – almost like small pieces of embroidery. But the work is perhaps particularly unique because it manages to build up and unfold a huge form within a time that seemingly stands still. The work grows on you with every listening, and it makes you curious for more”.

Here can you listen on Dreaming for orchestra by Anna Thorvaldsdóttir  [entire piece – 17:25]
Performed by The Iceland Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Daníel Bjarnason. Recording from Rhízōma, Anna’s debut portrait album.

Dreaming from Rhízōma by Anna Thorvaldsdóttir

Dreaming from Rhízōma by Anna Thorvaldsdóttir

The Iceland Symphony Orchestra has premiered and recorded four of Anna’s orchestra pieces, conducted by Ilan Volkov, Christian Lindberg, Rumon Gamba, Daniel Bjarnason, and Bernhardur Wilkinson. Her most recent piece for orchestra, “AERIALITY”, was commissioned by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and premiered in HARPA, the new award-winning Reykjavik Concert Hall, in November 2011, conducted by Ilan Volkov. The noted Icelandic CAPUT Ensemble has also premiered and recorded major works by Anna, conducted by Snorri Sigfus Birgisson.

In this video below can you listen on excerpt from Streaming Arhythmia by Anna Thorvaldsdottir.


Anna holds a PhD degree from the University of California in San Diego. At UCSD she primarily worked with Rand Steiger and Lei Liang, as well as with Chinary Ung, Philippe Manoury, Roger Reynolds, and percussionist Steven Schick. She received her BA degree in composition from the Iceland Academy of the Arts.

Anna was an Associate-In-Music at University of California, San Diego in 2011, teaching music theory and composition, and a teaching assistant at the department from 2006 to 2010.

Anna’s debut portrait album – Rhízōma – was released in October 2011 through Innova Recordings. The album features three larger pieces for orchestra and chamber orchestra and five shorter movements from a solo percussed piano work. The pieces are performed by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Bjarnason, the Icelandic CAPUT Ensemble, conducted by Snorri Sigfus Birgisson, and percussionist Justin DeHart. In addition to being selected Classical/Contemporary Album of the Year at the Icelandic Music Awards 2012, Rhízōma was also listed as Icelandic Album of the Year (2011) by Arni Matthiasson at Icelandic newspaper Morgunbladid, and appeared on a number of “Best of 2011” lists, e.g. at TimeOut New York and TimeOut Chicago.

To learn more of Anna Thorvaldsdóttir can you visit her website  (

Also if you like to buy some of her Music Art works, you can visit   (


Category: Iceland

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