Hordur Askelsson was born in Akureyri in the north of Iceland in 1953. He studied music in Akureyri and Reykjavik, before moving to Dusseldorf, Germany, in 1976 to study at the Robert Schumann Hochschule. He graduated as organist and cantor in 1981 summa cum laude.
After a year as organist in the Neanderkirche in Dusseldorf Askelsson moved to Reykjavik, where he has been organist and cantor of Hallgrimskirkja since 1982. In the same year he founded the Hallgrimskirkja Motet Choir of and was instigator of the founding of the Friends of the Arts Society of Hallgrimskirkja; choir and Friends are twin cornerstones to the artistic activities in the church. In 1987 he established the Festival of Sacred Arts, since then a biannual event on the cultural scene in Iceland. In 1993 he founded the Summer the Organ concert series. In 1996 Askelsson founded the chamber choir Schola cantorum, which has already become one of Iceland’s most respected choirs.
Hordur Askelsson has received much recognition, and with his choirs he has participated in various music festivals and international competitions, winning prizes in Cork, Ireland 1996, Noyon, France 1998, Gorizia, Italy 2002 and Festival Cancó Mediterrànea, Spain 2014. He has conducted many oratorios, often with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, and premiered a number of Icelandic compositions. His performances have been recorded for radio and television and issued on numerous CDs. A recording of the oratorio Passia by Haflidi Hallgrimsson conducted by Askelsson and released by the internationally renowned record company Ondine has received outstanding reviews in BBC Music Magazine, Gramophone, International Record Review and other media.
Hordur Askelsson has also been a teacher of the organ and choir conducting at the Iceland National Church’s Music School and in 1985-95 he was lecturer on liturgy at the University of Iceland Faculty of Theology. In the year 2000 Askelsson was musical director of the events held to celebrate the Millennium of Christianity in Iceland. In 2002 he received both the Icelandic Music Prize and the Culture Prize of the newspaper DV for his outstanding activities in the year 2001. He was appointed Municipal Artist of Reykjavík in 2002 and received the Knight’s Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon in 2004. From 2005-2011 Hordur Askelsson has been Church Music Director of the National Church of Iceland.