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Barbara Hannigan Named Chief Conductor of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra

Hannigan will step into her first Chief Conductor position in 2026, for an initial three-year term


Conductor Barbara Hannigan will become the next Chief Conductor of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra (ISO), and will begin in 2026 for an initial term of three years. The appointment marks the first time that Hannigan has taken up a Chief Conductor position with an orchestra.

Hannigan first appeared with the ISO in 2022, performing an all-twentieth century program of works by Berg, Schoenberg, Ives, and Gershwin. Now, she will appear with the orchestra for a minimum of six subscription weeks each season, as well as leading recordings and touring.

Hannigan is presently Associate Artist with the London Symphony Orchestra, Première Artiste Invitée with l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and will begin as Principal Guest Conductor with Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne in 2024/25. She has also been Principal Guest Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra since 2019.

The Reinbert de Leeuw Professor of Music at London's Royal Academy of Music, Hannigan is founder of the mentoring initiatives Equilibrium Young Artists and Momentum: Our Future Now. A contemporary-music specialist, she has led the world premieres of more than 85 new pieces.

"Always curious, courageous and creative, the players of the ISO are dedicated to working at the highest level," Hannigan said. "Their technical excellence co-exists alongside their wonderful imagination. In working with the ISO, I have felt the desire and possibility, for the first time, to consider a position as Chief Conductor. It is a matter of creative chemistry and collective timing that drives us to embark on this new path, together."

"Barbara Hannigan is one of a kind, and we can’t wait to work more with such an outstanding artist, perform the innovative programs she is renowned for and be a part of her unique expression," said Lára Sóley Jóhannsdóttir, the ISO's Managing Director. "The first time she walked on stage to conduct our orchestra, we all felt something exceptional and unique in the air."

"Experiencing the trust between her and the musicians and how they create and go on an adventure together is extremely inspiring. We are grateful and honored to be the first orchestra to appoint Barbara Hannigan as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director. We know that she will significantly influence the orchestra, our audiences and the Icelandic cultural life in the years to come."

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