THU—October 24—7:30 PM
$20 ($15 ASF Members)

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Icelandic-American cellist and former ASF Fellow Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir joins us for performances of compositions from her new album Vernacular. A curated set of Icelandic contemporary music for solo cello, much of it written for Sæunn, Vernacular contains pieces by Þuríður Jónsdóttir, Halldór Smárason, Páll Ragnar Pálsson, and Hafliði Hallgrímsson that showcase a unique soundworld in intimate monologues.

In this performance, Sæunn will perform four works, three of which were written for and premiered by her: Hafliði Hallgrímsson’s contemporary classic Solitaire, a five-movement suite consisting of dances and folk-inspired forms; Páll Ragnar Pálsson’s Afterquake, which explores the internal effects of emotional events through texture and overtone; Halldór Smárason’s candle-inspired three-movement work O; and 48 Images of the Moon by Þuríður Jónsdóttir, a mediation set in the Westfjords of Iceland.

About the Musician

Icelandic-American cellist Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir enjoys a varied career as a performer, collaborator and teaching artist. She has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Iceland Symphony, among others, and her recital and chamber music performances have taken her across the U.S., Europe and Asia. Sæunn has performed in many of the world’s prestigious venues, including Carnegie Hall, Suntory Hall, Elbphilharmonie, Barbican Center and Disney Hall, and the Los Angeles Times praised her performances for their “emotional intensity.”

In the 2018-2019 season, Sæunn made her debut with the BBC and Seattle Symphonies, performing the award-winning cello concerto Quake, written for her by Páll Ragnar Pálsson. Chamber music appearances took her to Carnegie Hall in New York City, Glasgow, and Los Angeles, as well as recitals in Reykjavík, Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago following the Spring 2019 release of Vernacular, her recording of Icelandic solo cello music on the Sono Luminus label. Highlights of the 2017-2018 season include the U.S. premiere of Betsy Jolas’ Wanderlied and the Hong Kong premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Canticle of the Sun, as well as recitals and chamber music appearances in New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Glasgow, London and Reykjavík. In addition to collaborating with Daníel Bjarnason on his award-winning composition Bow to String, Sæunn enjoys working with composers of our time such as Páll Ragnar Pálsson, Halldór Smárason, Þuríður Jónsdóttir and Melia Watras.


An avid chamber musician, she has collaborated in performance with Itzhak Perlman, Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode and members of the Emerson, Guarneri and Cavani Quartets and has participated in numerous chamber music festivals, including Prussia Cove and Marlboro, with whom she has toured. Formerly Artist-in-Residence at Green Music Center’s Weill Hall in Sonoma as well as cellist of the Manhattan Piano Trio, she is currently cellist of the Seattle-based chamber music group, Frequency, and cellist and founding member of Decoda, The Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall.

Sæunn has garnered numerous prizes in international competitions, including the Naumburg Competition in New York and the Antonio Janigro Competition in Zagreb, Croatia. She received a Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music, a Master of Music from The Juilliard School and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from SUNY Stony Brook. Her principal teachers include Richard Aaron, Tanya L. Carey, Colin Carr and Joel Krosnick. Sæunn is an alum of Ensemble ACJW (now known as Ensemble Connect) — a program 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. Born in Reykjavik, Iceland, Sæunn serves on the faculty of the University of Washington in Seattle, teaching cello and chamber music.

October 24, 2019

October 24, 2019