Called "riveting” by The New York Times, cellist SÆUNN THORSTEINSDÓTTIR, has appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Toronto and Iceland Symphonies, among others, and her recital and chamber music performances have taken her across the US, Europe and Asia. Following the release of her debut recording of Britten’s Suites for Solo Cello on Centaur Records, she has performed in some of the world’s greatest halls including Carnegie Hall, Suntory Hall and Disney Hall. The press have described her as “charismatic” (The New York Times) and praised her performances for their “emotional intensity” (Los Angeles Times).
Highlights of the 2016-2017 season include the premiere of a new concerto written for Sæunn by Páll Ragnar Pálsson, co-commissioned by the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well appearances at the Seattle Chamber Music Society and Iceland Symphony’s Friday Series. In addition to having worked closely with Daníel Bjarnason on his award-winning composition “Bow to String”, she is currently working with composers Halldór Smárason, Melia Watras, and Þuríður Jónsdóttir on new pieces for solo cello.
An avid chamber musician, she has collaborated in performance with Itzhak Perlman, Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode and members of the Emerson, Guarneri and Cavani Quartets and has participated in numerous chamber music festivals, including Prussia Cove and Marlboro, with whom she has toured. She is cellist of the Seattle-based chamber music group, Frequency, and cellist, founding member, and co-Artistic Director of Decoda, The Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall.
In the fall of 2015, Sæunn joined the faculty of the University of Washington in Seattle, teaching cello and chamber music. From 2013-2015, Sæunn was Artist-in-Residence at the Green Music Center’s Weill Hall in Sonoma, California, presenting concerts, masterclasses, lectures and informal discussions at Sonoma State University.
Sæunn has garnered numerous top prizes in international competitions, including the Naumburg Competition in New York and the Antonio Janigro Competition in Zagreb, Croatia. She received a Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music, a Master of Music from The Juilliard School and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from SUNY Stony Brook. Her principal teachers include Richard Aaron, Tanya L. Carey, Colin Carr and Joel Krosnick.
Sæunn is an alum of Ensemble ACJW (now known as Ensemble Connect)— a program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education—performing chamber music at Carnegie Hall and bringing classical music to students in the New York City Public Schools.
Born in Reykjavik, Iceland, Sæunn first moved to the states as a child, however, she still has family in Iceland and enjoys going back, both for concerts and family visits.