Be swept up by a stirring trio of powerful orchestral works by Britten, Tchaikovsky and Aldeburgh Festival featured composer, Anna Thorvaldsdottir.

The acclaimed composer is known for her mighty, elemental scores recalling the wild natural landscapes of her home country, Iceland. Metacosmos confronts something even bigger: the might and mystery of space. It is constructed around the natural balance between beauty and chaos – how elements can come together in (seemingly) utter chaos to create a unified, structured whole. Rumon Gamba, former Music Director of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, who has worked with Thorvaldsdottir since the early 2000s, is making his Festival debut.

Metacosmos stands alongside two great pieces of elemental repertoire: Britten’s shattering first large orchestral work, and Tchaikovsky’s final Symphony, premiered just days before the composer’s death.

"The idea and inspiration behind Metacosmos, which is connected as much to the human experience as to the universe, is the speculative metaphor of falling into a black hole – the unknown – with endless constellations and layers of opposing forces connecting and communicating with each other, expanding and contracting, projecting a struggle for power as the different sources pull on you and you realize that you are being drawn into a force that is beyond your control." – Anna Thorvaldsdottir

Anna Thorvaldsdottir is an Aldeburgh Festival featured composer, and her works appear throughout this year’s Festival. Follow the links below to find out more.

BBC Philharmonic
Rumon Gamba

Sinfonia da Requiem, Op.20 (20’)
Anna Thorvaldsdottir:
Metacosmos (14’)
Symphony No.6 in B minor, Op.74 'Pathétique' (46’)
A force to be reckoned with

Gramophone, on Anna Thorvaldsdottir

Anna Thorvaldsdottir in a plain background.

About Anna Thorvaldsdottir

Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s (b. 1977) “seemingly boundless textural imagination” (NY Times) and striking sound world has made her “one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary music” (NPR). Her music is composed as much by sounds and nuances as by harmonies and lyrical material – it is written as an ecosystem of sounds, where materials continuously grow in and out of each other, often inspired in an important way by nature and its many qualities, in particular structural ones, like proportion and flow.

Anna’s “detailed and powerful” (Guardian) orchestral writing has garnered her awards from the New York Philharmonic, Lincoln Center, the Nordic Council, and the UK’s Ivors Academy, as well as commissions by many of the world’s top orchestras. CATAMORPHOSIS was premiered by the Berlin Philharmonic and Kirill Petrenko in January 2021, following the orchestra’s European premiere of METACOSMOS with Alan Gilbert in 2019.

Symphonic works of sustained brilliance

The Times, on Anna Thorvaldsdottir

This performance is being recorded by BBC Radio 3 for future broadcast.