REYKJAVÍK 〓 Iceland Symphony Orchestra Names Barbara Hannigan Chief Conductor & Artistic Director


The Icelandic Symphony Orchestra has announced that soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan will be its next principal conductor and artistic director. Her term of office will begin in 2026 for three seasons. She succeeds Eva Ollikäinen, who became the first female principal conductor in the orchestra’s history in 2021 and announced her retirement at the end of the 2023/2024 season.

Hannigan was born in Waverly, Canada, and is 53 years old. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto and studied at the Ravinia Music Festival in the United States and the Royal Conservatory of The Hague in the Netherlands. She is a leading exponent of contemporary works and has performed with renowned orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic and has participated in the world premieres of nearly 90 new works.

Her conducting career began in earnest in the late 2000s. Her first album “Crazy Girl Crazy,” in which she conducted and sang with the Netherlands-based ensemble Orchestre Ludwig, won a Grammy Award in the United States in 2018. She also serves as Principal Guest Conductor of the Göteborg Symphony Orchestra in Sweden beginning with the 2018/2019 season.

She first conducted the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra in the spring of 2022 at the Reykjavik Arts Festival, conducting a program that included Ives, Schoenberg, Berg, and Gershwin, and in 2023 she conducted Haydn’s Symphony No. 96 and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, including her own solo performance in Mahler’s. She will also perform with the orchestra this April in a program of Poulenc and Strauss.


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