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Anna Thorvaldsdottir

Publisher: Chester Music

AIŌN (2018)
Commissioned by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Iceland Symphony Orchestra. First performed by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Iceland Dance Company conducted by Anna-Maria Helsing, with choreography by Erna Ómars-dóttir, on 24 May 2019 at Gothenburg Concert Hall.
Chester Music Ltd
Year Composed
38 Minutes
Programme Note


AIŌN is a large orchestral work in three movements written equally as an independent concert work or as a choreographed symphonic stage work, where the orchestra, dancers and visuals share the stage.

AIŌN is inspired by the abstract metaphor of being able to move freely in time, of being able to explore time as a place/space that you inhabit rather than experiencing it as a one-directional journey through a single dimension. Disorienting at first, you realize that time extends in all directions simultaneously and that whenever you feel like it, you can access any moment, even simultaneously. As you learn to control the journey, you find that the experience becomes different by taking different perspectives - you can see every moment at once, focus on just some of them, or go there to experience them. You are constantly zooming in and out, both in dimension and perspective. Some moments you want to visit more than others, noticing as you revisit the same moment, how your perception of it changes.

As with my music generally, the inspiration behind AIŌN is not something I am trying to describe through the music or the piece - to me, the qualities of the music are first and foremost musical. When I am inspired by a particular element or quality, it is because I perceive it as musically interesting, and the qualities I tend to be inspired by are often structural, like proportion and flow, as well as relationships of balance between details within a larger structure, and how to move in perspective between the two — the details and the unity of the whole. AIŌN moves between the micro and macro on every scale within the work – from the overall structure down to the most minute details in material.

Programme note © 2019 Anna Thorvaldsdottir

  • 01 APR 2020
    AIŌN Country Premiere
    Harpa, Reykjavik, Iceland
    Iceland Symphony Orchestra
    Iceland Dance Company; Erna Ómarsdóttir, choreography; Pierre-Alain Giraud and Valdimar Jóhannsson, video; Anna-Maria Helsing, conductor
  • 20 JUN 2020
    AIŌN Country Premiere
    Arctic Arts Festival (Festspillene i Nord-Norge)
    Harstad, Norway
    Arctic Philharmonic
    Iceland Dance Company; Erna Ómarsdóttir, choreography; Pierre-Alain Giraud and Valdimar Jóhannsson, video; Anna-Maria Helsing, conductor

…Electrifying, too, was the big world premiere of the festival, leading Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdóttir'’s AION, a collaboration with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Anna-Maria Helsing and the Iceland Dance Company. Erna Ómarsdóttir’s choreography for this mythological meditation on time and space – if there was a narrative, we weren’t made aware of it – contained the wildest of physical gestures, screaming and shouting within rigorous limits and astonishing symmetrical groupings, dancers going to the edge of the physically possible. As Thorvaldsdóttir’s trademark becomings and spacious soundscapes are more about atmosphere than Rite of Spring-like rhythmic intensity, there was a disjunct between the dancing and playing; if anything the stunning video work projected on the birchwood walls of the concert hall, all rocks and water, related more obviously to the music. But the components all stunned.
David Nice, The Arts Desk,30/05/2019
…How explosively the dancers moved as one then scattered, how they invaded the orchestra, seized instruments and hovered above them, how the music and dancers together became a body of sound and combined to create a ritualized, frenzied Gesamtkunstwerk, delighted the majority of the young audience.
Walter Weidringer, Die Presse,27/05/2019
...a resounding success: an abstract work, without specific messages, but that managed to move and make everyone think.
Luis Gago, El País,27/05/2019
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