The Hallgrímskirkja Motet Choir, founded in 1982, has long been one of the leading choirs in Iceland and celebrated recently it’s 35th anniversary. 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 Hallgrímskirkja 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 Icelandic Music Awards. In april 2018 the choir participated in two projects with the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra; in live musical performance of Miloš Forman‘s movie Amadeus and also as the choir part in Mahler‘s magnificent Resurrection finale.
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.
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 Vierne’s Messe Solennelle.
In 2016 the Motet choir performed the „Ode to Joy“ from Beethoven’s 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.
This year, the Hallgrimskirkja Motet Choir will perform romantic choral music by Bruckner, Mendelssohn, Brahms and others both in Reykjavik and in Akureyri. The choir will also, in June, participate in a premiere of a new oratorio, Mysterium, by Hafliði Hallgrímsson, which is composed for the Hallgrimskirkja choirs, soloists and orchestra.