Icelandic composers Hugi Guðmundsson and Daníel Bjarnason are among the thirteen composers who have been nominated for the Nordic Council’s 2018 Music Prize. According to the announcement on the Nordic Council website, the prize “is awarded for musicianship of the highest standard, to a piece by a living composer one year and to an ensemble or group the next.”
Hugi was nominated for his opera Hamlet in Absentia, which previously won the 2017 Icelandic Music Award. The award committee called the work “captivating and full of contrasts” and praised the composer’s originality in “using leitmotifs and recitatives, arias, and choruses in his highly original music. The music captures both the drama and comedy of the libretto by Jakob Weis and the instrumentation compliments the voices superbly. The opera keeps the listener excited and entertained to the end in its liberating and informal staging.”
Daníel was nominated for his opera Brothers, which was based on Danish director Susan Bier’s film of the same name. “Daníel’s musical voice embraces the medium superbly as he plays with the relationship between the individual voices, orchestra and choir, generating a convincing world through his personal musical language,” wrote the committee. “His music manages to convey the atmospheric and dynamic character of the story particularly well, skilfully using a wide range of colours and techniques from the palette of the operatic form.”
The winner of the prize will receive DKK 350,000 [$54,831] and will be announced at the Oslo Opera House on October 30. Read more about the prize and all of the nominees (in English) here.