Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir

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Cello

Icelandic cellist Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir enjoys a varied career as a performer, collaborator and artist teacher. 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 US, 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”.

Her most recent recording, Marrow: The 6 Suites for Solo Cello by J.S. Bach, was released in June 2023 and has already garnered international attention, the The Arts Desk (UK) noting “Thorsteinsdóttir’s poised, lyrical playing makes this set a front runner among recent recordings”. Other recent releases on the Sono Luminus label include Vernacular, a solo album of Icelandic music for cello, and the award-winning cello concerto, Quake, written for her by Páll Ragnar Pálsson, with the Iceland Symphony, which was nominated for a 2021 Grammy.

In 2022, Sæunn premiered Gemæltan, a new concerto by Canadian/Icelandic composer, Veronique Vaka, with the Iceland Symphony as part of her role as Artist-in-Residence of the 22-23 season, as well as performing chamber music and solo recitals in New York, Los Angeles, Reykjavík, San Francisco, Seattle, and Singapore.

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 Valerie Coleman, Reza Vali, Þuríður Jónsdóttir, Halldór Smárason, Jane Antonia Cornish and Melia Watras. She has also given the world premiere of Anna Thorvaldsdóttir’s cadenza for Haydn’s D Major concerto that she wrote for Sæunn, as well as the US premiere of Betsy Jolas’ Wanderlied and the Hong Kong premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Canticle of the Sun, for cello, 2 percussionists and choir.

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 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 is an alum of 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 Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. For more information, please visit www.saeunn.com