Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir


“Riveting” (NYTimes) 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” (NYTimes) and praised her performances for their “emotional intensity” (LATimes).

Highlights of her 2016–2017 season include the premiere of a new concerto written for Sæunn by Páll Ragnar Pálsson and co-commissioned by the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In addition to having collaborated closely with Daníel Bjarnason on his award-winning composition Bow to String, this season she is 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.

She has garnered numerous top prizes in international competitions, including the Naumburg Competition and the Antonio Janigro Competition in Zagreb. 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.  This is Sæunn’s second season with the Birdfoot Festival. You can learn more about Sæunn here.