We hugely enjoyed performing Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s piece ‘Shades of Silence’ during our last concert in Brixton, so we’re immensely looking forward to presenting her ‘Ró’ on March 3rd at The Warehouse, Waterloo. Anna is commissioned and performed all over the world, so we’re really grateful to her for taking time in her busy schedule to answer a few questions. Read her interview below, and check out her website here.
You’re an Icelandic composer but you’ve studied in the U.S. and now you live in London. Where do you think your artistic heart lies?
Well, I can’t say I feel that my artistic heart belongs to a geographical place per se – for me it is much more of an inner search for a soundworld. It is very precious to be inspired by different places but I don’t feel that the places I stay in, or live in, bound me or define me artistically. But I will of course always be Icelandic because that is where my roots lie.
We have been working on two of your pieces: ‘Shades of Silence’ and ‘Ró’. These are scored for wildly different ensembles. Can you give us a flavour of the soundworld you’re creating in each piece?
It is always important to me to listen to what the music wants and needs each time, and this often depends on the instrumentation of course and sometimes the occasion for which the piece is written. But my soundworlds are always born from the same inwards place in a sense although they are of course different for each piece. The characteristics of Shades of Silence are for example inspired by the airy and light notion of baroque string instruments because the piece was initially commissioned by an ensemble that performs on baroque instruments, so the lightly pulsating characteristics of the piece are inspired by that. And Ró was inspired by a search for calm through various musical means which are carried by a stream of harmony and sound materials that are born from various attacks on the larger and smaller scale within the piece.
You’re very well known for your huge orchestral landscapes. Do you feel more at home in a symphonic medium than writing for smaller forces?
I very much enjoy writing for larger forces and orchestras and playing with the colors of many instruments has always been a very big and a natural passion for me. My musical voice tends to be geared towards instrumentations that have the capabilities to create sound structures and sustained harmonies, and there are of course many variations of smaller instrumentations that can very well do that which I very much enjoy writing for as well and feel at home within. But writing for the orchestra is always a special treat and a big passion of mine.
I see you’ve got performances in Vancouver and Paris in the same month as our concerts. Are you at home with travelling as much as your music is?
I travel very much for my music but the music is being performed very often and quite widely so I am not able to attend all performances, but I try to attend the largest performances and premieres the best I can.
Do you think Iceland will beat England at football next time they meet?
We’ll see … Many thanks, Anna!