The Iceland Symphony Orchestra
The Iceland Symphony Orchestra gave its first concert in 1950 and recently celebrated its 60th anniversary. It is Iceland's national orchestra and is funded in large part by the Icelandic state and the city of Reykjavík. The orchestra gives around 60 concerts annually. These include both traditional classical concerts, contemporary music, film music, and much more. Many of the world's most renowed musicians have appeared with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, including Daniel Barenboim, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Mstislav Rostropovich, Radu Lupu, Claudio Arrau, and Evelyn Glennie. Vladimir Ashkenazy has conducted the orchestra regularly since the early 1970s and currently holds the position of Conductor Laureate. Principal Guest Conductor of the ISO is the legendary Russian conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky.
The Iceland Symphony Orchestra has recorded widely for international labels, including BIS, Chandos, and Naxos. The ISO's complete cycle of Sibelius symphonies under the direction of Petri Sakari was much praised by critics. The orchestra is currently recording the orchestral works of Vincent d'Indy with Rumon Gamba for the Chandos label. The first volume was nominated for a Grammy award in 2008 for Best Orchestral Performance, and the second volume was an Editor's Choice selection in Gramophone magazine. The third installment, recently released, received a five-star review in BBC Music Magazine. The ISO has toured widely in Europe and the United States, including two appearances in Carnegie Hall, in 1996 and again in 2000. Writing in the New York Times in 1996, critic Alex Ross described the ISO's performance under Osmo Vänskä as “sensational… one of the finest Sibelius performances I have encountered.”
The Iceland Symphony Orchestra had made its home in Háskólabíó (University Cinema) since 1961, but moved into the new 1800-seat Harpa (Reykjavík Concert and Conference Center) in the spring 2011.