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In the Light of Air is a tetralogy of works by Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottír that together form a unified structure, written for viola, cello, harp, piano, percussion & electronics. The four main movements are titled Luminance, Serenity, Existence and Remembrance, and are connected by transitions to form a seamless flow throughout the work. The work also has a Prologue and an Epilogue. The work streams from one movement to the next through a flowing texture of sound materials and harmonies. The music material is constructed with a focus on subtle nuances and poetic textures that form lyrical gestures throughout the work. Melodies are generated just as much by sounds, gestures and nuances as by pitched lyrical material. For the work, Anna designed an installation of metallic ornaments that are used in a solo in the percussion part in Remembrance. The ornaments, called Klakabönd in Icelandic (which translates as “a bind of ice”), are created by Svana Jósepsdóttir. Parts of Remembrance insisted on echoing the melody of a song that Anna’s husband – Hrafn – wrote and dedicated to her in 2000. “In the Light of Air” was written for the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) in 2013/2014 as part of their ICElab. “Transitions,” the final piece, was written for Michael Nicolas in 2014. The theme of the work is ‘man & machine’, and is represented in that the cellist becomes both in the piece – man & machine. Man indicates expression and emotion, and machine indicates maximal technical accuracy, a somewhat stricter approach to the music. These two approaches transition from one to another throughout the work.
Anna Thorvaldsdottír is a composer who frequently works with large sonic structures that tend to reveal the presence of a vast variety of sustained sound materials, reflecting her sense of imaginative listening to landscapes and nature. Her music tends to portray a flowing world of sounds with an enigmatic lyrical atmosphere. Anna’s music is frequently performed internationally, and has been featured at several major venues and music festivals such as Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival in NYC, the Composer Portraits Series at NYC’s Miller Theatre, ISCM World Music Days, Nordic Music Days, Ultima Festival, Klangspuren Festival, Beijing Modern Music Festival, Reykjavik Arts Festival, Tectonics, and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Her works have been nominated and awarded on many occasions – most notably, Anna is the recipient of the prestigious Nordic Council Music Prize 2012 for her work Dreaming, and The New York Philharmonic’s Kravis Emerging Composer Award.
The International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), described by the New York Times as “one of the most accomplished and adventurous groups in new music,” is dedicated to reshaping the way music is created and experienced. With a modular makeup of 35 leading instrumentalists, performing in forces ranging from solos to large ensembles, ICE functions as performer, presenter, and educator, advancing the music of our time by developing innovative new works and new strategies for audience engagement. ICE redefines concert music as it brings together new work and new listeners in the 21st century.