Iceland Symphony Orchestra Strike Narrowly Avoided

Iceland Symphony Orchestra in Eldborg Hall

The Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the state have settled their wage dispute. Agreements were signed at the state mediator’s office yesterday evening at 7:00 PM, just in time to call off a musicians’ strike that was set to begin today. The dispute was referred to the state mediator last June.

According to a government notice, the state mediator and the negotiation committee have placed great emphasis on the involvement of the Ministry of Culture to resolve the dispute. The Ministry of Culture and Trade has proposed that the Symphony Orchestra receive additional funding in the coming years to cover the costs of salary increases and strengthen workplace culture.

Operations have been challenging for the Iceland Symphony Orchestra in recent years, not least due to the coronavirus pandemic. The notice also states that it was clear that a strike would impact the orchestra’s ability to meet its obligations and its possibilities of earning income.

When the Band Began to Play: 70 Years of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra

“The Icelandic Symphony Orchestra pays a key role in Icelandic musical life. It is therefore gratifying that an agreement has been reached,” stated Minister of Culture and Trade Lilja Alfreðsdóttir. “A strike could have had a significant negative impact on cultural life in the country.”

The Iceland Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1950 and has been a central figure of Iceland’s musical landscape since. The orchestra has received two Grammy nominations. Read more about the orchestra in Iceland Review Magazine.

Iceland Symphony Orchestra Nominated For Grammy

Iceland Symphony Orchestra in Eldborg Hall

The Iceland Symphony Orchestra’s album Concurrence is nominated for a Grammy award in the category Best Orchestral Performance. IN the album, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Daníel Bjarnason, performs new pieces by four Icelandic Composers, Anna Þorvaldsdóttir, Haukur Tómasson, María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir and Páll Ragnar Pálsson. Soloists are cellist Sæunn Þorsteinsdóttir and pianist Víkingur Heiðar Ólafsson. The album is the second of three in the collaboration of the orchestra and the US record label Sono Luminus, where the orchestra will perform 14 new Icelandic orchestral pieces in total, conducted by Daníel. The final addition to the series, Occurrence, is expected in January 2021.

Read more on the birth of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra

The New York Times chose Concurrence as one of its 25 best Classical Music Tracks of 2019 and NPR chose it as one of its 10 classical albums to usher in the next decade. Five albums are nominated for a Grammy in this category. Other nominees include the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the San Fransisco Symphony.

The Iceland Symphony Orchestra has been nominated for a Grammy once before, in 2009 in the same category.

When the Band Began to Play

Iceland Symphony Orchestra in Eldborg Hall

First, the strings enter: bowing a soft, high A. It’s the first ray of morning sunlight breaking over the horizon. The woodwinds answer with a two-note proclamation, like shadows retreating before the dawn. Like brilliant droplets of dew, glittering textures arise from the clarinets.

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