Topic: The Canadian Club of Rome and the
Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
Zoom 18 Nov 2020 “Orchestral Music and Social Change”
Speaker: Arna Kristin Einarsdottir
Time: Nov 18, 2020 13:30 Eastern Time (US and Canada)
In light of our current situation, with COVID completely disrupting the ways of our orchestral world, I would like to come at the topic of Music and Climate from a slightly different angle and call it Orchestral Music and Social Change and to put forward this question: how can a symphonic orchestra, that is so heavily rooted in our cultural heritage, mostly performing repertoire and music from the past, be relevant and deal with current issues of today.
To answer this I would like to talk about how we at the NAC Orchestra decided to shift our focus entirely. How we are now using this time of disruption to explore what the future holds for our art form, both in terms of the music we perform, who we choose as our artistic partners and how we use the digital medium to reach our audience and expand the experience. We have already shown this in our first NACO Live concert, which featured works by two women composers, three composers of colour and two young Canadian soloists from BIPOC communities, with a logged in audience of 2000 people and an overwhelming positive response and praise.
Like COVID, the climate crisis is threatening to disturb our ways of living. The climate crisis has become a topic that artists are working with in their creations. It is almost like a new field within the arts. This is understandable as the arts function like our digestion system. First we need the science to bring us the facts and then the arts take over and use them to inspire their art, music and stories so that we can internalize the facts and understand on an emotional level. Not until this happens can we truly expect any real change. This is exactly why the arts, and artists are so important to our societies. This is also why it is my firm belief that scientists and artists should work much more closely together, particularly now, when we need to deliver the urgent message of change. We hope that the Ideas of North festival will become this meeting point of music and science and that it will help us digest and internalize what is actually happening, and hopefully help us in making the important change we need for the future of the planet. In my talk I will give some interesting examples of the power of music and arts to deliver this message.
Arna Kristin Einarsdottir was appointed Managing Director of Canadas’ National Arts Centre Orchestra in 2018. Formed in 1969, the Orchestra gives about 100 performances a year in Ottawa, across Canada and around the globe, working with diverse and internationally acclaimed artists, such as James Ehnes, Angela Hewitt and Joshua Bell, under the inspiring leadership of Music Director, Alexander Shelley. The NAC Orchestra has been praised for the passion and clarity of its performances, its visionary educational programs and its prominent role in nurturing Canadian creativity. National and international tours have been a hallmark of the orchestra since its inauguration. In recent years the orchestra has undertaken performance and education tours across Canada, as well as the U.K. and China and Europe.
Before joining the NAC Orchestra Ms. Einarsdottir was at the forefront of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra for 12 years, first as the orchestra’s Orchestra Manager and then becoming the Managing Director in 2013. During her time as a manager she was responsible for meeting the orchestra’s overall artistic and financial goals and managed a successful financial turnaround with increased audience. Arna led the search process and signed a three-year contract with the world renowned conductor, Yan Pascal Tortelier as Chief Conductor of the orchestra in 2015. Ms. Einarsdottir further strengthened ISO’s artistic team by creating an assistant conductor position, as well as a composer-in-residence, signing Daniel Bjarnason and Anna Thorvaldsdottir, two of Iceland’s most prominent composers. Under her leadership the Orchestra took part in the BBC Proms in 2014, performed as a part of Nordic Cool festival at the Kennedy Centre in 2013 and gave 12 sold out concerts with Vladimir Ashkenazy and soloist Nobuyuki Tuji in Japan 2018. In 2011, the orchestra moved into a new concert hall, Harpa, which has become one of Reykjavik’s landmarks and has more than two million visitors a year.
Before moving into management, Arna played second flute with the Iceland Symphony orchestra from 2000–2004 and had a successful career as a flutist, both in Iceland as well as in England. Arna holds a master’s degree in Cultural Management from Bifröst University in Iceland; a Soloist Performance Exam from Reykjavík Music College in Iceland; a Postgraduate Diploma from Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England; and a Professional Performance degree from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Arna has three children aged 28, 16 and 11 and is married to graphic designer Hilmar Þorsteinn Hilmarsson.