20. June 2022

Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir appointed Artist in Residence with the ISO

Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir has been appointed Artist in Residence with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra for the coming season and will be collaborating with the orchestra on various projects, including a world premiere of a new cello concerto by Veronique Vaka.

Lára Sóley Jóhannsdóttir:

Sæunn is an artist of great ambition who has made a valuable contribution to musical innovation in Iceland. Her initiative and collaboration with many of our foremost composers has yielded valuable musical works that we bring with us into the future. Sæunn is a brave, independent and fascinating artist that we are thrilled to have as our artist in residence for the coming season.”

Sæunn Thordeinsdóttir:

It is an honor and a joy to be able to showcase the cello as a solo instrument throughout the coming season with the Iceland Symphony. Ever since I first played with the Symphony when I was a student at Juilliard, and many times since then, I have loved the feeling of coming home to play with my home team. Perhaps most exciting to me is the collaboration with music director Eva Ollikainen, conductors Nathanael Iselin and Dmitriy Matvienko, as well as the wonderful musicians of the orchestra in spectacular new repertoire by living composers Veronique Vaka, Gity Razaz and Jane Antonia Cornish, along with better-known masterpieces by Bach, Dvorak and Shostakovich. I look forward to sharing this meaningful music with friends, family and music-lovers in Iceland. ”

Innovative and versatilve musician

Icelandic-American cellist Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir enjoys a varied career as a performer, collaborator and teaching artist. She has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Iceland Symphony, among others, and her recital and chamber music performances have taken her across the US, Europe and Asia. Sæunn has performed in many of the world’s prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, Suntory Hall, Elbphilharmonie and the Barbican Center. An avid chamber musician, she has collaborated in performance with Itzhak Perlman, Mitsuko Uchida and Richard Goode and has participated in numerous chamber music festivals, including Prussia Cove and Marlboro. A great advocate for new music, Sæunn has ordered works and premiered music by contemporary composers. Her 2019 recording Vernacular, released on the label Sono Luminus, featured cello works by Icelandic composers, and among her close collaborators from the world of new Icelandic music are Daníel Bjarnason, Páll Ragnar Pálsson, Halldór Smárason and Þuríður Jónsdóttir. In recent years, Sæunn has been on the teaching faculty of the University of Washington in Seattle, but has now been appointed to the The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.


An Ode to the Cello

Sæunn begins her residency with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra by premiering a new cello concerto by Canadian-Icelandic composer and cellist Veronique Vaka, Gemæltan. In the same concert, Sæunn will perform a new version of Daníel Bjarnason’s Bow to String for cello and orchestra, but Sæunn originally commissioned the work and recorded it for Daníel’s debut album, Processions, in 2010. In this concert, she will be performing under the baton of the Iceland Symphony’s chief conductor, Eva Ollikainen.

Sæunn will follow up the very next day with a concert in the Friday series where she performs along with cellists from the ISO in an exciting programme that serves as an ode to the instrument and includes another new work by Veronique Vaka, Boulez’s Messagesuisse and Dvořák’s Waldesruhe for solo cello and cello ensemble.

Cello Suites and Shostakovich

Sæunn will celebrate the release of her new recording of Bach’s Cello Suites on 26 February 2023 in Norðurljós chamber hall in Harpa, pairing three of Bach’s suites with works by Benjamin Britten and Þuríður Jónsdóttir. She will then return to the stage of Eldborg concert hall with the ISO on 30 March, performing Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto nr. 1 under the baton of Dmitry Matvienko, the 2021 winner of the prestigous Malko Competition for conductors.

Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra already share a long and fruitful collaboration. Sæunn’s latest performance with the orchestra was in 2019 when she played Haydn’s Cello Concerto nr. 2 in D major with a new candenza written by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra composer in residence, Anna Thorvaldsdóttir.