THE HAMRAHLÍÐ CHOIR has been at the forefront of Icelandic musical life for four
decades. Founded in 1967 by its present conductor, Þorgerður Ingólfsdóttir, it was among
the first college choirs in Iceland, and has maintained its leading position ever since. The
choir, made up of students at Hamrahlíð College in Reykjavík, is an educational institution
in its own right. More than 2,000 Icelandic teenagers have come into contact with
classical music through the Hamrahlíð choral experience. Many of these have had no prior
musical training, but through diligent practice they have gone on to participate in musicmaking of the highest quality, from new Icelandic compositions to the choral masterworks of Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart.
The Hamrahlíð Choir has been a breeding ground for many of Iceland’s leading singers,
instrumentalists, and composers. Among the many musicians who are former members
of the choir are singer/songwriter Björk Guðmundsdóttir, composer Haukur Tómasson
(Nordic Council Music Prize 2004) and bass Kristinn Sigmundsson. In 1982, a choir
made up of former students at Hamrahlíð College was founded and immediately established itself as one of Iceland’s leading choral ensembles.
Although the Hamrahlíð Choir is primarily devoted to musical education, it has from the
very beginning been dedicated to giving performances of the highest quality. The choir
sings with a pure, flexible, well-blended sound, and it performs with exuberance and a
youthful sense of discovery. Critics throughout the world have praised its accurate intonation, clear diction, and the high level of enthusiasm and commitment that are among the hallmarks of the choir’s music-making.
Throughout its history, the choir has collaborated closely with Icelandic composers. Over
90 works have been composed especially for the choir, including works by virtually all of
Iceland’s leading composers. Apart from its close association with native composers, the
choir has collaborated with foreign artists such as Arvo Pärt, John Cage, and Vagn Holmboe in the first Icelandic performances of their works. Arvo Pärt was so impressed with the choir’s performance of his Te Deum in 1998 that he composed a choral work dedicated to Þorgerður Ingólfsdóttir, …which was the son of…, which was premièred in 2000.
With its dedication, passion, and spirit, the Hamrahlíð Choir has touched audiences
around the world. The Choir has travelled to 23 countries and has performed at many
of the world’s leading choral festivals to great acclaim, introducing audiences around the
world to the rich legacy of Icelandic choral music. The choir has participated in festivals
in Europe, North America, and Asia, and collaborated with renowned conductors
such as Tõnu Kaljuste, Osmo Vänskä, Lukas Foss, Laszlo Heltay, Robert King, Timothy Brown, Gustav Sjökvist, Willi Gohl, Hansruedi Willisegger, Johan Dujick, Petri Sakari,
and Thomas Adés. The choir has been a member of the European Federation of Young
Choirs since 1978, and is one of the founding members of the International Federation
for Choral Music.