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May 26: Anna Thorvaldsdottir's ARCHORA and AIŌN - world premiere recordings by the Iceland Symphony

Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s ARCHORA / AIŌN

World Premiere Recordings by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra

Led by Chief Conductor Eva Ollikainen

Release Date: May 26, 2023

Sono Luminus

US Premiere of ARCHORA: Los Angeles Philharmonic, May 11-14

UK Premiere of AIŌN: BBC Symphony Orchestra, Aldeburgh Festival, June 16

“Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s natural instrument is the symphony orchestra, but in her hands it is reborn as a natural organism.” – The Guardian | |

On Friday, May 26, 2023, Sono Luminus will release a new portrait album of the music of Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir featuring the world premiere recordings of her orchestral works ARCHORA from 2022 and AIŌN from 2018, by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra led by Chief Conductor Eva Ollikainen. The album is offered in standard CD and Pure Audio Blu-rayformats (5.1 DTS HD MA 192kHz, 7.1.4 Auro-3D 96kHz, 2.0 LPCM 192kHz, 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos 48kHz), as well as digitally.

Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s “seemingly boundless textural imagination” (The New York Times) and “riveting” (The Times) sound world has made her “one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary music” (NPR). Her music is composed as much by sounds and nuances as by harmonies and lyrical material – it is written as an ecosystem of sounds, where materials continuously grow in and out of each other, often inspired in an important way by nature and its many qualities, in particular structural ones, like proportion and flow.

ARCHORA was commissioned by the BBC Proms with co-commissioners the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, Iceland Symphony Orchestra and Klangspuren Schwaz, and was premiered in August 2022 at the BBC Proms by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and Eva Ollikainen in a concert selected as among The Guardian’s Classical Highlights of 2022. The Los Angeles Philharmonic and Ollikainen will give the U.S. premiere performances of ARCHORA at Walt Disney Concert Hall, from May 11-14, 2023.

Of the premiere, Andrew Clements wrote in The Guardian, “Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s music is about mass and density, how different planes of sounds collide and combine, and how intricately detailed textures evolve over time. Those qualities make the orchestra the obvious medium for her work, and it has largely been through her sequence of strikingly effective orchestral scores that the Iceland-born composer has become recognised as one of the most distinctive voices in European music today."

AIŌN was written for the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and co-commissioned by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. The BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ollikainen, will give the UK premiere performance of AIŌN on June 16, 2023 as part of the 2023 Aldeburgh Festival, where Anna will be featured composer. AIŌN is a symphony-scale orchestral work in three parts – “Morphosis,” “Transcension,” and “Entropia” – and has been described as, “intense, surprising, and beautiful. AIŌN takes you to another place,” by Nordlys, and as, “an extraordinary three-movement work ... a soundworld that could be massively placid, deafeningly chaotic, weirdly unearthly, or awesome with oceanic majesty,” by Classical Voice North America.

Anna writes of these two pieces, and her sources of inspiration, in this excerpt from the liner notes for the new album:

The core inspiration behind ARCHORA centers around the notion of a primordial energy and the idea of an omnipresent parallel realm – a world both familiar and strange, static and transforming, nowhere and everywhere at the same time . . . AIŌN is inspired by the abstract metaphor of being able to move freely in time, of being able to explore time as a space that you inhabit rather than experiencing it as a one-directional journey through a single dimension. . .

As with my music generally, the inspiration behind ARCHORA and AIŌN is not something I am trying to describe through the music or what the music is “about”, as such. Inspiration is a way to intuitively tap into parts of the core energy, structure, atmosphere and material of the music I am writing each time. It is a fuel for the musical ideas to come into existence, a tool to approach and work with the fundamental materials, the ideas and sensations, that provide and generate the initial spark to the music.

This new album follows the April 28, 2023 release on Sono Luminus of Anna’s major orchestral work CATAMORPHOSIS (commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic and co-commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Iceland Symphony Orchestra) as part of the album Atmospheriques, recorded by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra led by Daníel Bjarnason. With the addition of these two albums in 2023, Sono Luminus will have released all six of Anna’s orchestral works to date – including METACOSMOS (commissioned by the New York Philharmonic), released in 2019; AERIALITY, originally released by Deutsche Grammophon in 2014 and re-released in a remastered version on Sono Luminus in 2022; and Dreaming, originally released on a portrait album by Innova Recordings in 2011 and re-released on Sono Luminus in 2020.

Anna’s music is widely performed internationally and has been commissioned by many of the world’s leading orchestras, ensembles, and arts organizations, including the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestre de Paris, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Danish String Quartet, International Contemporary Ensemble, BBC Proms, and Carnegie Hall. Her “confident and distinctive handling of the orchestra” (Gramophone) has garnered her awards from the New York Philharmonic, Lincoln Center, the Nordic Council, and the Ivors Academy. Currently Composer-in-Residence with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, she will also be in residence at the 2023 Aldeburgh Festival. She lives in the London area.


Danish String Quartet International Tour - March 19-August 2, 2023

Featuring the premiere performance of Rituals

Including April 13 at UC Santa Barbara, CA; April 14 in Berkeley, CA; April 16 in Vancouver, BC; April 20 at Carnegie Hall in New York, NY; April 21 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC; and more.


Seven-City Iceland Symphony Orchestra UK Tour - April 20-28, 2023



Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles, CA - May 11-14, 2023

US premiere of ARCHORA


Carnegie Hall, New York, NY - May 25, 2023

World premiere of Ubique, a concert-length work for solo flutes, two cellos, and piano; part of Claire Chase’s Density series


National Arts Centre Orchestra, Ottawa, Ontario - May 18-19, 2023

Canadian premiere of CATAMORPHOSIS


Royal Opera House, London, England - June 9-17, 2023

Featuring CATAMORPHOSIS and METACOSMOS w/ choreography by Wayne McGregor


Aldeburgh Festival, Suffolk, England - June 12-24, 2023

Featured festival composer; UK Premiere of AIŌN, performance of METACOSMOS, and more


Tanglewood Festival & Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, Lenox, MA - July 28-August 2, 2023

Composer in residence, including a portrait concert, performance of METACOSMOS, and the Danish String Quartet performing Rituals


For Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s complete performance calendar, visit


Anna Thorvaldsdottir: ARCHORA / AIŌN

Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, Conducted by Eva Ollikainen

Sono Luminus

Release date: May 26, 2023

[1] ARCHORA by Anna Thorvaldsdottir [20:52]

[2-4] AIŌN by Anna Thorvaldsdottir 2. I. Morphosis [13:16] 3. II. Transcension [16:47] 4. III. Entropia [10:50] Total Time: 61:48

Recorded at Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavík, Iceland

Norðurljós Recital Hall, October 17-20, 2022 Producer: Ragnheiður Jónsdóttir

Executive Producer: Collin J. Rae

Recording, Mixing Engineer: Daniel Shores

Editing Engineer: Ragnheiður Jónsdóttir

Assistant Engineer: Joshua Frey

Mastering Engineers: Daniel Shores; Morten Lindberg

Pure Audio Blu-ray Audio specifications:

5.1 DTS HD MA 192kHz

7.1.4 Auro-3D 96kHz

2.0 LPCM 192kHz

7.1.4 Dolby Atmos 48kHz

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