The South Iceland Chamber Choir performing Surrounded by Strangers by Eyvind Gulbrandsen at Cycle Music and Art Festival 2015 Photo: Rut Sigurdardottir

The South Iceland Chamber Choir performing Surrounded by Strangers by Eyvind Gulbrandsen at Cycle Music and Art Festival 2015
Photo: Rut Sigurdardottir

THE CHOIR

The South Iceland Chamber Choir is comprised of musicians from the South of Iceland, as well as Iceland's capital area. It was founded in 1997 by Hilmar Örn Agnarsson, who has been its conductor from the outset. The choir has given many performances in Iceland, e.g. at Cycle Music and Art Festival, the Skalholt Cathedral Summer Concert series, Reykjavík's Dark Music Days festival, Reykjavík Jazz Festival, Reykjavík Arts Festival and the Tectonics festival, which is also held in Reykjavík. The choir has also performed abroad in France, Greenland, Sweden and in England, at Southwark Cathedral in London and the Salisbury International Arts Festival. The choir has also recorded music for film and radio.

The South Iceland Chamber Choir has collaborated with and premiered works by many outstanding Icelandic and foreign composers. In the past few years the choir has gained international acclaim, most notably for its collaboration with English composer, Sir John Tavener. The choir’s collaboration with John Tavener began in 2004 when they performed the first complete concert of his works in Iceland. In October 2010, the choir released an album of Tavener's music, ‘lepo Oneipo’ (Sacred Dream), which was chosen as album of the month by Gramophone Magazine in October 2010. It was also nominated for the Album of the Year Award in the contemporary and classical music category of the 2011 Icelandic Music Awards.

More recently, the Choir has participated in a European collaboration project, along with Curated Place, Cycle Music and Art Festival, and Pinquins, with the aim of premiering newly commissioned work from composers in residence as part of the Moving Classics project, funded in large by Creative Europe and SASS.

 

KÓRINN

Kammerkór Suðurlands samanstendur af tónlistarfólki af Suðurlandi og höfuðborgarsvæðinu. Stjórnandi kórsins frá stofnun hans árið 1997 er Hilmar Örn Agnarsson. Kórinn hefur komið fram víða, m.a. á Cycle Music & Art Festival, Sumartónleikum í Skálholti, Myrkum Músíkdögum, Jazzhátíð og Listahátíð í Reykjavík, Tectonics-samtímatónlistarhátíð Sinfóníuhljómsveitar Íslands; haldið tónleika í Frakklandi, Grænlandi, Svíþjóð, Southwark dómkirkjunni í Lundúnum og á Salisbury-listahátíðinni á Englandi; auk þess að hljóðrita tónlist fyrir kvikmyndir og sjónvarp.

Stór hluti kórstarfsins hefur frá upphafi einkennst af náinni samvinnu við íslensk og erlend tónskáld. Á seinni árum hefur kórinn vakið alþjóðlega athygli og ber þar hæst samstarfið við breska tónskáldið Sir John Tavener, en kórinn flutti fyrstu samfelldu tónleikadagskrána hérlendis helgaða verkum hans í Skálholti árið 2004. Í október 2010 kom út geisladiskurinn Iepo Oneipo (Heilagur draumur) með tónlist Taveners, sem var m.a. valinn diskur mánaðarins hjá tónlistartímaritinu Gramophone, auk tilnefningar sem plata ársins í flokki klassískrar/samtímatónlistar á Íslensku tónlistarverðlaununum 2011.

Undanfarin misseri hefur Kammerkór Suðurlands, í samstarfi við bresku umboðsskrifstofuna Curated Place, verið einn þriggja evrópskra flytjendahópa sem taka að sér frumflutning á nýjum tónsmíðum útvalinna umsækjenda í alþjóðlega tónskáldaverkefninu Moving Classics, sem er liður í styrkjaáætlun Evrópusambandsins, Creative Europe og er auk þess styrkt af Samtökum sunnlenskra sveitarfélaga (SASS).

 

 


KÓRSTJÓRINN

Hilmar Örn Agnarsson hóf tónlistarnám við Tónskóla þjóðkirkjunnar ungur að árum. Hann lauk tónmenntakennaraprófi frá Tónlistarskólanum í Reykjavík árið 1983, þar sem aðalkennari hans var Jónas Ingimundarson. Að útskrift lokinni starfaði hann sem organisti og kórstjóri í Þorlákshöfn og Strandarkirkju árin 1983 til 1985. Í kjölfarið hélt hann til Þýskalands til frekara náms í orgelleik og kórstjórn, sem hann stundaði við Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst í Hamborg frá 1985 til 1991.

Árið 1991 var Hilmar ráðinn organisti við Skálholtsdómkirkju og stjórnaði þar öflugu tónlistarlífi um árabil; tók því næst við stöðu dómorganista í Kristskirkju, Landakoti í Reykjavík og starfar nú sem organisti og kórstjóri við Grafarvogskirkju, auk þess að stýra kórunum Vox populi, Söngfjelaginu og Kammerkór Suðurlands.  

Hilmar Örn hefur unnið með fjölmörgum framúrskarandi höfundum og listamönnum úr ýmsum ólíkum geirum, þ. á m. eru Sir John Tavener, Patricia Rozario, Christian Wolff, Stomo Yamasta, Daniel Johnston, Pauline Shepherd o.fl. Hann hefur jafnframt átt mikið og farsælt samstarf með Megasi og stýrði m.a. heildarfrumflutningi á lögum hans við Passíusálmana í tilefni 400 ára fæðingarafmælis Hallgríms Péturssonar árið 2014. Hilmar Örn var bassaleikari, lagasmiður og einn af stofnendum hljómsveitarinnar Þeyr, sem var starfrækt á árunum 1978 til 1983. Hilmar Örn hlaut starfslaun listamanna árið 2012 og 2014.

THE CHOIR CONDUCTOR

Hilmar Örn Agnarsson began his musical education at a young age in the Icelandic National School of Church Music and completed his music teacher´s qualification in 1983 at the Reykjavik School of Music. He continued his education at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Hamburg, Germany, where his main teachers were Gerhard Dickel and Rose Kirrn. After seven years of study, he graduated as Cantor and was appointed Cantor at Skalholt Cathedral in South Iceland in 1991, where he conducted an active and vigorous musical life.

From 2009 to 2012 he was the Cantor of the Catholic Church in Reykjavik and he is now an organist at the Lutheran Church Grafarvogskirkja in Reykjavík. He is the conductor of The South Iceland Chamber Choir, the adult choir Songfjelagid, and youth choir Vox Populi. With these musical groups, he has worked with many of Iceland‘s most prominent musicians and composers, as well as international musicians, such as the Japanese percussionist Stomo Yamash‘ta, Björk, Sir John Tavener, and Kjartan Sveinsson of the band Sigur Ros.

Hilmar played bass in the New Wave band Þeyr (Theyr), in the early 1980's. Their identity was characterised by a deep interest in ancient wisdom. Þeyr helped bring about the New Wave movement in Iceland, releasing numerous records and becoming one of the first Icelandic bands to be known abroad. Hilmar Örn was honoured to receive a government grant for exceptional artists for the years 2012 and 2014.