Icelandic conductor, curator and composer Daníel Bjarnason is currently Composer-in-residence at the Muziekgebouw Frits Philips Eindhoven and former Artist-in-Residence with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.
Making his conducting debut with Tokyo and Toronto symphony orchestras, and Turku Philharmonic, other highlights this season are the revival at Harpa of the Kasper Holten production of his first opera Brothers, premiered in Aarhus — European Capital of Culture, and the London premiere of First & Last Men, with the London Symphony Orchestra, a multimedia work from the late Oscar-nominated Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, which Bjarnason premiered the previous year.
Bjarnason’s recent commissions include the piano trio White Flags, commissioned by Storioni Festival Muziekgebouw Eindhoven; a work for the Los Angeles Children’s Choir; and We Came in Peace (for All Mankind), a new work for 12 Horns commissioned by The Holland Festival. His latest orchestral work, the Violin Concerto, co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Iceland Symphony Orchestra, saw its world premiere at the Hollywood Bowl with Gustavo Dudamel.
A co-curator of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Reykjavik Festival, and featuring as conductor and composer, he presented an eclectic 17-day festival with numerous commissions, performances from artists of different genres, visual and digital arts exhibitions, and educational concerts.
Bjarnason has previously appeared with the Los Angeles and BBC Philharmonic orchestras, amongst other guest invitations. With music performed by conductors such as Gustavo Dudamel, John Adams, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Andre de Ridder, Osmo Vänskä, in venues such as Walt Disney Concert Hall, Lincoln Center, Harpa and Barbican, his versatility has also led to collaborations with a broad array of musicians outside the classical field including Sigur Rós, Ben Frost and Brian Eno.
The recipient of the 8th Harpa Nordic Film Composers Award for the soundtrack of the Icelandic film Under the Tree, he has also been awarded Best Performer at the Icelandic Music Awards, as well as Composer of the Year for his works The Isle Is Full of Noises and Over Light Earth.
Bjarnason is a member of Bedroom Community and is published by Peters Edition.
“The Icelanders in Gävle Concert Hall lived up to the high expectations. (…) [Re. Processions] A modern masterpiece, performed with all the required feeling and sharpness. It’s just surrendering.”
(Gefle Dagblad, March 2019)
“Collider is one of the best orchestral albums of the year, by one of the world’s finest composers.”
(acloserlisten, October 2018)
“[Processions] is a thoroughly satisfying concerto bristling with virtuoso passages for the soloist (…) as well as some very imaginative orchestration. It was elegantly conducted by Bjarnason and smartly interpreted by Olafsson. (…) It would be wonderful if the Toronto Symphony Orchestra invited back both Bjarnason and Olafsson to show off more of their considerable talents.”
(The Star, March 2018)
“…expect to hear much more of Bjarnason’s music over the years ahead.”
“…coming eerily close to defining classical music’s undefinable brave new world.”
(Time Out New York)
“[H]is colorful, restless score drew me in, with its passages of overlapping cyclic riffs, slowly heaving instrumental expanses and episodes of darting fragments, like some mystical dance.”
(New York Times)
“With fierce intelligence confirmed, Bjarnason now seems primed for a romp through the rest of the 21st century.”
(A Closer Listen)
“The program opened with Mr. Bjarnason’s “Bow to String,” a 2009 work originally written for solo cello with multilayered electronic elements. The version played here, by members of the Philharmonic with a few guest artists, is for solo cello and nine instrumentalists. The first movement is pulsing, thick and frenetic, with aggressive, Bartok-like chords, given extra punch by a thumping piano. The second movement is like a fractured, jittery dance, at once cosmic and sensual. In the slow, subdued final movement, the elegiac solo cello is comforted by hazy, plush, pungent chords.”
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