In spring 2017, the Los Angeles Philharmonic held a large festival featuring Icelandic music and performers. Now the ISO is returning the favour by holding a festival of its own, with music from LA at the centre of the stage, and there is plenty to choose from.
John Adams is one of the United States’ leading contemporary composers, and his Scheherezade.2, a dramatic symphony for solo violin and orchestra, met with praise from music critics. Composed for Leila Josefowicz, the piece is based on Arabian Nights. Adams says he was particularly moved by “the casual brutality toward women that lies at the base of many of these tales”, not least the captivating Scheherazade, who saves her own life by telling tales. The New York Times review of Leila Josefowicz’ premiere called it “a dazzling and inspired performance”, and her recording of it was nominated for a Grammy award in 2016.
Also on the programme is Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, considered by many to be one of the 20th century’s most important works for choir and orchestra. Stravinsky wrote it for the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1930, and only a few years later he had settled in Hollywood. The clear, bright sonority of the Hamrahlíð Choirs is perfectly suited for the work, since Stravinsky himself preferred a pure choral sound. In autumn 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the first choir rehearsal held by Þorgerður Ingólfsdóttir at Hamrahlíð Upper Secondary School, launching an ensemble that would go on to collaborate with the ISO for decades.
Watch the live broadcast at 19:30 here.