Who is 7R? - Anna Thorvaldsdottir

Who is 7R?

Anna Thorvaldsdottir, composer
Composer of Ad genua, response to TO THE KNEES

Not by coincidence, Anna's music was introduced to us in a conversation with ICE's Claire Chase.  Discussing compelling, atmospheric music, as we considered composers that reached across geographic and cultural boundaries, Claire's crazy-smart mind immediately went to the color world of Anna - at times cold and barren, at others violent and hot, always a universe of veiled beauty, yet heard in brief moments of extraordinary specificity - a truly individual voice born in the unique landscape of her Icelandic home.  Anna agreed to respond to Buxtehude and then set forth to ponder that response for well over a year with her poet Gudrun Eva Minervudottir, with whom she chose to collaborate. The result demonstrates her own description of her approach to composition:

Internally I hear sounds and nuances as musical melodies and enjoy weaving various sounds together with harmonies and lyrical material. Structurally I like working with perspectives of details and the unity of the whole and the relationship between the two.

Anna has earned international renown in recent years with her unique, atmospheric evocations of the natural world and the landscapes of her homeland. Anna's music has been performed around the world at several major venues and music festivals such as Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart, Big Ears Festival, the Composer Portaits Series at NYC's Miller Theater, ISCM World Music Days, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Reykjavik Arts Festival, and the Kennedy Center. Her works have been nominated and awarded on many occasions - most notably, Anna is the recipient of the prestigious Nordic Council Music Prize 2012 for her work Dreaming, and The New York Philharmonic's Kravis Emerging Composer Award. Numerous ensembles have programmed her works, such as Seven Responses collaborator International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the LA Philharmonic, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, NDR Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic, BIT20, Caput Ensemble, and, upcoming in May 2017, the New York Philharmonic will present her work Aeriality as part of Alan Gilbert's final season as Music Director.

Anna’s latest album In the Light of Air, performed by ICE, was released by Sono Luminus in August 2015, and was included on many ''Best of 2015'' lists including those of The New York Times, The New Yorker, Boston Globe, and NPR Music’s 50 Favorite Albums across all genres. NPR Music stated, "In the Light of Air might sound like it's the aural soul of Iceland,... a good way to hear the magic of a faraway place." You can watch a video from the world premiere at the Reykjavik Music Festival below, and the entire piece can be heard in a studio recording by ICE on Youtube and Spotify.

Anna has written 17 works for chamber ensembles; 9 works for orchestra and chamber orchestra; 16 solo/duet works for various voices and instruments; 6 works for choir; and 4 electronic soundscapes, presented as live performance installations by Anna herself. Her first opera, UR_, premiered in September 2015 at Theater Trier, Germany, and received its Icelandic premiere at the 2016 Reykjavik Music Festival on June 4. In 2012 she composed an original score for the Icelandic feature film XL, and in 2009 she composed Memory of silence for a radio drama.

Anna's works have also been widely recorded, having been included on 10 commercial releases. Three of those albums feature Anna's music entirely - Rhízōma (2011, Innova Recordings), which includes Anna's composition Hrím, winner of Composition of the Year at the Icelandic Music Awards and the International Music Prize for Excellence in Composition, both in 2011; Aerial (2014, Deutsche Grammophon); and In the Light of Air (2015, Sono Luminus), which was awarded Contemporary/Classical Album of the Year 2015 by the Icelandic Music Awards. In the Light of Air and Aerial have both been featured on numerous end-of-year lists, including The New York Times, NPR, Q2 Music, and others.

Anna earned both her M.A. and Ph.D. in Music Composition from the University of California, San Diego.