The Hallgrímskirkja Motet Choir, founded in 1982, has long been one of the leading choirs in Iceland. Its large and diverse repertoire includes a number of oratorios, passions and requiems, as well as a cappella sacred music from various periods. The choir has also premiered many Icelandic compositions.
The choir has toured widely and performed in some of Europe’s most prominent cathedrals and at various festivals. The choir sang at the Nordic Church Music Symposiums in Oslo 1986, Gothenburg 1996 and Reykjavík 2012. In 1996 it won a prize at the International Choral Competition in Cork, Ireland, and in 2014 it won three gold medals and the Grand Prix of the International Choir Competition and Festival Cançó Mediterrània.
Among major works performed recently by the Hallg rímskirkja Motet Choir are J.S. Bach’s passions, the Christmas Oratorio and Mass in B minor, the requiems by Mozart, Duruflé and Fauré, the oratorios Elijah and Paulus by Mendelssohn, Vesper by Rachmaninoff, Mass for Double Choir by Frank Martin, A German Requiem by Johannes Brahms and Messe Solennelle by Louis Vierne. The choir also regularly performs with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and was recently nominated as Performer of the Year in the category of Classical and Contemporary Music at the 2012 Icelandic Music Awards.
Having released a number of CDs, the choir has earned international acclaim for its recordings. In 2011 a special deluxe edition was released of the choir‘s sold-out album of sacred music, Ljósið þitt lýsi mér. An album was also released the same year of the 2010 Christmas concert with opera singer Kristinn Sigmundsson. The choir’s most recent album release, Flétta, features a new piece from composer Haukur Tómasson, recorded at its premiere during the 2011 Reykjavík Arts Festival. A new CD will be presented shortly, the result of recording sessions from May 2016 where the choir recorded some of their favorite choral pieces.
Recent premieres of Icelandic music include St. Cecilia, an oratorio by Áskell Másson and writer Thor Vilhjálmsson which was nominated for Composition of the Year at the 2010 Icelandic Music Awards. During its 30th anniversary year in 2012 the choir performed Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor and his Requiem in March and April, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra in June, secular, Jón Nordal’s Matins in Spring for the opening ceremony of the Nordic Church Music Symposium in September and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with The Hague International Baroque Orchestra.
In 2013 the choir’s repertoire included Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, Walton’s Coronation te Deum and Louis Vernes’ Messe Solennelle.
Last year the choir honoured the 400 year anniversary of the Icelandic pastor and poet Hallgrímur Pétursson after whom the Hallgrímskirkja church is named with a special concert. As previously mentioned the choir participated in the International Choir Competition and Festival Cancó Mediterrània 2014 in Lloret de Mar, Spain in September with great results. During their stay in Spain the choir performed at various venues in Catalunyia such as the Barcelona Cathedral, the Basilicia de Tibidabo in Barcelona and Iglesia Santa Susanna in Girona.
Last year’s two largest projects were the performance of Hafliði Hallgrímsson’s Passía on Good Friday and Handel’s oratorio Solomon at the Festival of Sacred Arts in August 2015, for which the choir was nominated for the Icelandic Music Awards as Classical Music Performer of the Year. Most recently the Motet choir performed the „Ode to Joy“ from Beethovens 9th Symphony at a special concert with the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra in Harpa, where the nation‘s favorite orchestral pieces (as voted for in a poll online) were performed. The „Ode to Joy“ was by far the favorite and closed the concert with the Motet Choir contributing the renowned choral part.
Ahead is a concert trip to the Czech Republic and a festive concert in October on the 30th anniversary of Hallgrímskirkja’s consecration where the choir will sing music by Bach and Charpentier accompanied by The Hague International Baroque Orchestra and solo singers. In December the annual Christmas Concert will take place. This year there is a nordic theme with special guests from Sweden. The renowned organist Mattias Weber and the talented soprano singer Maria Keohane.