IS

The Orchestra

Iceland Symphony Orchestra

Founded in 1950, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra is the national orchestra of Iceland and one of the leading institutions on the country’s cultural scene. Widely praised for its performances and recordings, the orchestra presents a full season each year of subscription series, school and family concerts, and concerts devoted to modern music. The majority of the orchestra’s concerts are broadcast live on radio by the National Broadcasting Service, and selected concerts are televised and streamed live online. The Iceland Symphony is the resident orchestra in Reykjavík’s award-winning Harpa Concert Hall.

In September 2020, Eva Ollikainen assumes the post of Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, a role previously held by conductors such as Jean-Pierre Jacquillat, Petri Sakari, Rumon Gamba, Ilan Volkov, Yan Pascal Tortelier, and Osmo Vänskä, who currently holds the title of Honorary Conductor. Vladimir Ashkenazy has conducted the orchestra regularly since the 1970s and now holds the position of Conductor Laureate. Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir is the orchestra’s Composer-in-Residence, and Icelandic composer-conductor Daníel Bjarnason is Principal Guest Conductor.

The Iceland Symphony Orchestra has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, BIS, Chandos, Naxos, and Ondine. Its wide-ranging international discography includes highly praised cycles of the symphonies of Sibelius and orchestral works by Jón Leifs. The orchestra has also recorded the complete orchestral works of Vincent d’Indy with Rumon Gamba for Chandos. The first volume of the series was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Orchestral Performance. Its most recent release, of symphonies by Charles Gounod with conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier, was an Editor’s Choice in Gramophone and CD of the week in The Sunday Times.

The Iceland Symphony Orchestra has appeared widely throughout Europe and beyond, including performances at the BBC Proms, the Wiener Musikverein, and the Kennedy Center. In 2018 it embarked on a highly successful three-week tour of Japan with Ashkenazy. It has also appeared twice in New York’s Carnegie Hall. Writing in The New York Times, the critic Alex Ross described the orchestra’s performance under Osmo Vänskä as “sensational… one of the finest Sibelius performances I have encountered.”