American Contemporary Music Ensemble

The Music of Jóhann Jóhannsson

Jóhann Jóhannsson was an Icelandic composer most widely known for his award-winning film scores for The Theory of Everything, Arrival, and Sicario but equally adept in the concert music world. ACME toured with Jóhannsson from 2009 until his death in 2018, and can be heard on Jóhannsson’s 2016 Deutsche Grammophon album Orphée.

ACME offers two programs of Jóhannsson’s spellbinding music – his monumental Drone Mass for string quartet, electronics, and vocal ensemble, composed for ACME during the group’s 10th anniversary season in 2015; and a program of his chamber music for string quintet, piano, electronics, and small percussion.

Rolling Stone declared, “Drone Mass . . . seems designed to tug at modern heartstrings. It has the glacial drama of minimalism, the familiar harmonies of church music, the keening drama of pop, the deep digital rumble of modern cinema – all in movements that feel about the length of a rock song . . . the piece made it difficult not to adhere to the unwritten, long-held orchestra rule of not applauding until the end. But after a movement where a vocal drone met a cello slide – the satisfying sound of a properly tuned guitar, an effect like a lm coming into focus – the boundary was breached and torrents of applause followed.”


In their overview of Jóhannsson’s music for small ensemble, ACME traverses his recorded catalog and performs music from his albums Englabörn, IBM 1401, Fordlandia, and Orphée. ACME and Artistic Director Clarice Jensen want Jóhannsson’s music to live on not only through the lm scores for which he is well known, but in the concert hall as well.

Of a recent performance, An Earful reported, “Taken as a whole, the concert was as strong an argument for Jóhannsson’s ongoing presence in our musical lives as can be imagined. The performances were superb, exquisitely emotional but also precisely controlled.”



For booking inquiries:

Management & PR:

Christina Jensen,

Gina Meola,


“The performance was polished and exuberant, and it consistently drew the listener in”

Musical America

“sense of greater force . . . pure, sustained beauty. . . majestic sonic balance”

– I Care if You Listen

"Such soul, passion, and excellent command" 

– NPR 


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