SCHOLA CANTORUM is a chamber choir of 12-18 professional singers,founded in 1996 by the conductor Hörður Áskelsson, Music Director of Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík. Schola Cantorum has from the very start played an important role on the Icelandic music scene, especially in Hallgrímskirkja where the choir participates in the annual program of the Hallgrímskirkja Friends of the Arts Society with several concerts a year. The repertoire of Schola Cantorum consists mainly of renaissance, baroque and contemporary music including numerous premiere performances of works by Icelandic contemporary composers.
In recognition of their achievements Schola Cantorum was appointed “City of Reykjavík Official Music Group” for the year of 2006 and also nominated for the Nordic Music Prize in 2007. The choir was nominated for the Icelandic music prize 2013 for its outstanding performance of works by Arvo Pärt at a concert in the Festival of Sacred Arts in August 2013.
Schola Cantorum appears regularly in the Festival of Sacred Arts at Hallgrímskirkja, held bi-annually in Iceland. In this festival the choir, in collaboration with The Hague International Baroque Orchestra, has premiered “Joshua” and “Israel in Egypt” by G. F. Händel on the Icelandic music scene. The choir has also collaborated in performances of the Weihnachts Oratorium by J.S. Bach and Händel’s Messiah on his 250th anniversary 2009. Since 2009 Schola Cantorum has held very popular Wednesday concerts during June, July and August, introducing Icelandic music to foreign visitors in Hallgrímskirkja in connection with the International Organ Summer at Hallgrímskirkja and have added weekly concerts in December to their concert program, singing festive music, in the last two years.
Schola Cantorum has held concerts and represented Iceland at festivals in Paris and Noyon in France, Cologne Cathedral in Germany, Italy, Northern-Spain, Osaka in Japan, St. Olav Festival in Throndheim Norway and at the Nordic Church Music Festival in Helsinki, Finland, and won prizes in international competitions in Picardy, France in 1998 and Gorizia, Italy in 2002. The choir has also performed several times with alternative band Sigur Rós and Björk, both domestically and abroad, and with the Swedish experimental band Wildbirds & Peacedrums in Iceland. Recently Schola Cantorum sang in the theatre production, Der Klang der Offenbarung des Göttlichen, music by Kjartan Sveinsson at the Icelandic Artfest 2014.
Other recordings in the choirs repertoire include the choralorchestral compositions of Jón Leifs in collaboration with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, including the epic Oratorio Edda I for which the choir received excellent reviews. These recordings were released by the Swedish label BIS. The choir has also recorded with the esteemed Björk on her album Medulla, which was recorded almost entirely with vocals. The choir also performed with Björk in concerts in Reykjavík, London and Paris.
In 2015 Schola cantorum performed at the prestigious festival Culturscapes in Switzerland, giving concerts in Basel and neighbourhood, the Swiss National Radio broadcasting one of their concerts. The highlight of this year is the releasing of a new CD, Meditatio, featuring outstanding contemporary choir works, both Icelandic and foreign.