In the Light of Air is a tetralogy of works 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 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 of ice”), are 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 2013/2014 as part of their ICElab. Live performances of the work include a light constellation that was designed in collaboration with ICE. The work was premiered by ICE at the Reykjavik Arts Festival on May 25th 2014, followed by performances at various venues, such as at the Park Avenue Armory in NYC in August 2014, as part of Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, and at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in April 2015.
Total time: 00:47:51
|Original Recording Format|
Sono Luminus Studios, Boyce, Virginia
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|Release Date||January 29, 2016|
NPR’s First Listen
The album might be called In the Light of Air, but it’s anything but conventionally light or airy. Instead, this rumbling, evocative music by composer Anna S. Þorvaldsdóttir seems grounded deep in the beautifully austere landscapes of her native Iceland. Don’t listen too hard for hummable melodies. While there are flashes of lyrical writing, the composer excels at weaving sound textures together to create distinct atmospheres.
Composed for and performed by members of the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), In the Light of Air is a conjoined four-movement suite for viola, cello, harp, piano, percussion and electronics. ICE gave the world premiere in May 2014 at the Reykjavik Arts Festival. The album, released Aug. 28, also includes Transitions, a piece that pushes the solo cello into territory seldom traveled.
In the Light of Air, so cinematic on its own, sports an extra visual component — a kind of electric light orchestra — when performed. Hanging above the musicians is a constellation of light bulbs, glowing and dimming according to the intensity of the music.
In the Light of Air might sound like it’s the aural soul of Iceland, but lately the piece has been traveling abroad, with performances in Chicago, New York and Washington. This album is a good way to hear the magic of a faraway place and get a sense of a fascinating young composer on the rise.
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