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Anna Thorvaldsdottir

Publisher: Chester Music

In the Light of Air (2014)
Chester Music Ltd
Small Ensemble (2-6 players)
Year Composed
40 Minutes
Programme Note
Anna Thorvaldsdottir In the Light of Air (2014)
1. Luminance
2. Serenity
3. Existence
4. Remembrance

In the Light of Air is a tetralogy of works that together form a unified structure. The four movements are connected by transitions to form a seamless flow throughout the work. The work 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 musical 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, I 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 in ice”), were created by Svana Jósepsdóttir.

Parts of Remembrance insisted on echoing the melody of a song that my husband – Hrafn – wrote and dedicated to me in 2000. I am deeply thankful for this presence in the work.

In the light of Air was written for the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) in 2013/14 as part of their ICElab. The light constellation that accompanies the performance was designed in collaboration with ICE. The work was premiered at the Reykjavik Arts Festival on 25 May 2014.

Anna Thorvaldsdottir

The four main movements of the work - Luminance, Serenity, Existence and Remembrance may be performed individually

Audio files and technical information are available from the publisher, please contact

Anna Thorvaldsdottir and ICE - In the Light of Air from ICE on Vimeo.

Preview the score:

  • Ensemble
    International Contemporary Ensemble
    Sono Luminus:
  • 08 MAR 2020
    Theater Korzo / The Hague / Netherlands
    New European Ensemble and Ensemble Academie Koninklijk Conservatorium
  • 16 MAR 2020
    Architekturzentrum Wien / Vienna / Austria
    ensemble xx. jahrhundert
    Peter Burwick, conductor

'In the Light of Air' … is an exquisite tetralogy that forms a single statement, in which melodies are thrown up by the music’s very exploration of sound and texture. It’s a music perusal of light and air, and of visibility, temperature and geology.
Andrew Mellor, Gramophone,01/01/2019
…this rumbling, evocative music by composer Anna Thorvaldsdottír seems grounded deep in the beautifully austere landscapes of her native Iceland.
Tom Huizenga, NPR Music,19/08/2015
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