In celebration of the recent release of her debut recording of the Suites for Cello by Benjamin Britten on Centaur Records, former ASF Fellow Sæunn Þorsteinsdóttir invites you to join her for a recital in Volvo Hall at Scandinavia House. Along with one of the suites by Benjamin Britten, she will also include a suite by J.S. Bach and a world premiere by Kendall Briggs. Just as the Britten suites were inspired by the Bach suites, Kendall Briggs was inspired by both to write a wonderful new addition to the cello repertoire, combining tried and true forms with his dramatic tonal language.
Praised by the New York Times as “a charismatic cellist,” Sæunn Þorsteinsdóttir (b. 1984, Reykjavík, Iceland) has appeared as recitalist and chamber musician across the U.S., Germany, Poland, Italy, France and her native Iceland and has performed concerti with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, the Silesian Philharmonic (Poland), and the Des Moines Symphony, among others. She has garnered numerous top prizes, including the Antonio Janigro International Cello Competition in Zagreb, Croatia and the 2008 Naumburg Competition in New York City. Þorsteinsdóttir was recently chosen as the recipient of a Career Grant from the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation and nominated for the “Brightest Hope” of the 2010 Icelandic Music Awards.
An avid chamber musician, Þorsteinsdóttir has collaborated in performance with Itzhak Perlman, Mitsuko Uchida, and the Cavani Quartet in venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Currently, Þorsteinsdóttir is a member of Ensemble ACJW and a graduate of The Academy, a collaboration of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and The Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, performing chamber music at Carnegie Hall and bringing classical music to students in the New York City Public Schools.
An advocate of new music, Þorsteinsdóttir has premiered dozens of works, including most recently, commissioned works for cello by Daníel Bjarnason, Nicholas Csicsko, and Kendall Briggs. She performs new music frequently in venues in New York City such as The Stone and Le Poisson Rouge. Along with the masterpieces of the 18th, 19th and 20th century, Þorsteinsdóttir is constantly inspired by works composed in our time.
A certified Suzuki teacher, Þorsteinsdóttir received her pedagogy training under Tanya Lesinsky Carey (former President of the Suzuki Association of the Americas), her longtime teacher and mentor. She has served as teaching assistant to Mrs. Carey at Meadowmount School of Music, Richard Aaron at ENCORE School for Strings, as well as having coached chamber music groups at the Chamber Music Connection, Columbus and CIM’s Summer Chamber Music Program. As a component of the work she does through Carnegie Hall, Þorsteinsdóttir works regularly at Elementary School P.S. 28 in Brooklyn.
In 2006, Þorsteinsdóttir received a Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music with the highest honors for accomplishments in both cello and chamber music, the Ellis A. Þorsteinsdóttir Memorial Award in Cello and the Bennett Levine Memorial Award in Chamber Music. She continued her studies at The Juilliard School and completed a Master of Music in 2008. Her principal teachers include Richard Aaron, Tanya Carey, and Joel Krosnick.
Þorsteinsdóttir has performed in master classes for Zara Nelsova, Anner Bylsma, Bernard Greenhouse, and Steven Isserlis, and was a featured soloist on NPR’s From the Top and PBS’s SundayArts. She has been invited to numerous summer festivals including the Perlman Music Program Chamber Music Workshop, Kneisel Hall, as well as the Sarasota, and Marlboro Music Festivals. She recently toured with the “Musicians from Marlboro,” playing chamber music in the most important halls on the East Coast as well as a part of the Ravinia’s “Rising Stars” series.
Þorsteinsdóttir plays on a cello made in Milan, Italy circa 1800.