Schola Cantorum Reykjavicensis was founded in 1996 by the conductor Hörður Áskelsson, cantor at Hallgrímskirkja (Hallgrim’s Church) in Reykjavík 1982-2021. Schola Cantorum has from the very start played an important role in the Icelandic music scene with a repertoire that consists mainly of renaissance, baroque and contemporary music including numerous premier performances of works by Icelandic composers.
Schola Cantorum has given concerts in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, France, Japan and USA. In 2017 Schola Cantorum was invited by Los Angeles Philharmonic to sing 4 concerts in Walt Disney Concert Hall during Reykjavík Festival in LA. Upcoming concerts will take place at the Reykjavik Arts Festival, Oslo International Church Music Festival, KLANG festival in Copenhagen, The Nordic Music Days in Iceland and in France.
The choir can be heard in many recordings including complete choral/orchestral works of Icelandic composer Jón Leifs issued by Swedish label BIS. The choir has also worked with artists such as Björk, Sigur Rós, Jóhann Jóhannson, and Swedish experimental band Wildbirds & Peacedrums. Schola Cantorum appears widely on the musical spectrum. For instance the choir sings in the soundtrack of the action-adventure video game God of War released by Sony 2018 and 2021. 2 new CD´s with the the choir will be released by BIS in 2022 and 2023.
In 2007 the choir was nominated to the Nordic cultural price and in 2009 it was appointed the Music Group of Reykjavík. In March 2017 Schola Cantorum was appointed by Iceland Music Awards as the Performer of the Year 2016.
Members of Schola Cantorum
Fjóla Kristín Nikulásdóttir
Ingibjörg Fríða Helgadóttir
Ragnheiður Sara Grímsdóttir
Rakel Edda Guðmundsdóttir
Thelma Hrönn Sigurdórsdóttir
Jóhanna Ósk Valsdóttir
Lilja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir
Helgi Steinar Helgason
Þorkell Helgi Sigfússon
Þorsteinn Freyr Sigurðsson
Þórhallur Auður Helgason
Örn Ýmir Arason
Hörður Áskelsson was born in Akureyri in the north of Iceland in 1953. He studied music in Akureyri and Reykjavík, before moving to Düsseldorf, 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 Düsseldorf Áskelsson moved to Reykjavík, where he has been organist and cantor of Hallgrímskirkja since 1982. In the same year he founded the Motet Choir of Hallgrímskirkja and was instigator of the founding of the Friends of the Arts Society of Hallgrímskirkja; 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 and in 1996 Áskelsson founded the chamber choir Schola cantorum, which has already become one of Iceland’s most respected choirs.
Hörður Áskelsson 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 and Gorizia, Italy 2002. 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 Passía by Hafliði Hallgrímsson conducted by Áskelsson and released by the internationally renowned record company Ondine has received outstanding reviews in BBC Music Magazine, Gramophone, International Record Review and other media.
Hörður Áskelsson 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 Áskelsson 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 Hörður Áskelsson has been Church Music Director of the National Church of Iceland.