After posting so much about him last week we wanted to introduce some of the music of our current composer in residence - Halldór Smárason.
Born in the town of Ísafjörður, in the Westfjords of North West Iceland, Halldór showed an early aptitude for music starting his studies at the age of 7 at the Ísafjörður Music School. Going on to complete his Advanced Level Piano Examination in the spring of 2009 he enrolled in the Icelandic Academy of the Arts where he graduated in the spring of 2012.
The same year, Halldór received a Fulbright scholarship to undertake his master's studies at the Manhattan School of Music, New York, where he studied classical composition under Dr. Reiko Füting. He graduated in the spring of 2014 whereupon we were lucky enough that he applied for the latest round of Collaborative Compositions.
Over the years Halldór has received several awards and commissions. During his first year in the United States, his piece Stara was selected as the winning submission of the Manhattan Prize and in 2014, Halldór's master's thesis was selected to be premiered by the Manhattan School of Music Symphony, conducted by David Gilbert.
Now he's busy writing a new piece for Psappha Ensemble which will premiere on the 7th of January 2015 at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation we asked him to select a few of his works here and give us a little insight into this practice:
Premiere by Elektra Ensemble
Vegfarendur (An Icelandic collective noun for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers) was composed in November and December 2011. The piece is based on a video that shows an intersection, which the composer recorded through a window in his living room. During the first half of the piece, the music describes what the video shows. After a certain event the music transforms and shows less interest in the video, but focuses instead on the experience from before that particular event. However, the time is relative to our memory so the result is unpredictable.
More or less through the piece, each instrument represents different traffic lights and also different vehicles or pedestrians. One could say that the piece is bound together by those traffic lights, whose dynamics are controlled by lighting conditions.