Composer Ólafur Arnalds Receives Emmy Nomination

Ólafur Arnalds musician

Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds has been nominated for an Emmy award for the theme song of TV series Defending Jacob. Ólafur was nominated in the category Outstanding Original Main Theme Title Music. The winners will be announced on September 20, 2020.

If he wins the Emmy, Ólafur would not be the first Icelandic composer to do so. Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir won the prestigious award last September for her music for the HBO miniseries Chernobyl. Icelanders have previously been nominated for Emmys in the categories of cinematography and directing.

The Defending Jacob theme can be heard below.

Chernobyl Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir Wins Emmy

Hildur Guðnadóttir

Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir received an Emmy last night for her score for HBO’s historical drama miniseries Chernobyl, Vísir reports. The miniseries chronicles the tragic events of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster and features a score by Guðnadóttir, entirely made from sounds recorded at the site of the infamous calamity. This is the first Emmy win for Guðnadóttir, whose upcoming scores include Todd Phillips’ highly anticipated Joker movie, starring Joaquin Phoenix.

The 71st Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards were held over the weekend to honour outstanding achievements in U.S. primetime television, with Chernobyl sweeping up seven awards, including one for Guðnadóttir’s score.

As previously reported, Guðnadóttir’s score is made from sounds recorded on-site at a nuclear power plant. “I wanted to explore what a nuclear disaster sounds like – to go into the plant, put on the gear, walk through the huge spaces, smell how it smells,” Guðnadóttir told Iceland Review in a recent interview.

Read the interview with Hildur Guðnadóttir

Guðnadóttir’s next score is for Todd Phillips’ upcoming Joker film, which is awaiting an October release. Joker has already garnered considerable praise, winning the coveted Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival, with Guðnadóttir winning the Premio Soundtrack Stars Award for her score.

Hildur Guðnadóttir was not the only Icelander who was victorious over the Emmy weekend. Aron Hjartarson won an award alongside his team at Framestone, a production and visual effects company, for their involvement in Free Solo, the documentary about rock climber Alex Honnold.



Icelandic Composer of Chernobyl Nominated for Emmy

Hildur Guðnadóttir

Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir has been nominated for a 2019 Emmy Award for her original music for the TV series Chernobyl. Hildur’s atmospheric soundscape, sculpted from live recordings made inside the nuclear power plant where the show was filmed, has been praised for how its weaves seamlessly into the action of the series.

HBO production Chernobyl is a historical drama miniseries which centres around the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of April 1986. To write the score, Hildur visited the shooting location, a nuclear power plant in Lithuania, and made live recordings of its atmospheric sounds. “I wanted to explore what a nuclear disaster sounds like – to go into the plant, put on the gear, walk through the huge spaces, smell how it smells,” she told Iceland Review in a recent interview. Alongside sound engineer Chris Watson and score producer Sam Slater, Hildur observed and recorded the plant’s hums, echoes, and thuds, produced by everything from dosimeters to doors.

It’s these recordings that were moulded into the score for Chernobyl in the place of traditional instruments. “Often film music is boosting the emotion on the screen,” Hildur explains. “But because the events at Chernobyl were so devastating in themselves, I found it was really important that I wasn’t exaggerating anything with thriller music or dramatic strings, I wanted to approach the music very honestly.”

Hildur is featured in the August-September issue of Iceland Review magazine, where she talks about her work on Chernobyl as well as upcoming Hollywood film Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix. Subscribe to Iceland Review here.