Halla Steinunn Stefánsdóttir is one of Iceland’s leading figures within the contemporary music scene. She has been the artistic director of Nordic Affect since its inception in 2005. Believing that the exciting things happen ‘in the connection’ Halla Steinunn’s work with the ensemble has been a tour de force when it comes to collaborative relationships with composers, visual artists, and producers. In 2013 she was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize together with Nordic Affect and the following year the group was named Performer of the Year at Iceland Music Award.
With degrees from The Royal Danish Academy of Music and Indiana University School of Music (Fulbright Grant), Halla Steinunn now holds a PhD position in artistic research at Lund University, in a time where the divide between creator and performer is being questioned in theoretical writings and in practice. She has taught at the Iceland Academy of the Arts and given lectures in Europe and the US. She presently teaches a course on method and form at the Malmö Academy of Music.
In her activity as curator and composer Halla Steinunn has tapped into her extensive experience as radio producer and her output has spanned everything from quadrophonic and surround soundscapes to installation rooms and recording projects. Her works have been performed at festivals such as Nordic Music Days, Dark Music Days (IS), Transit festival (SE/DK), Sound and Environment (UK), Gothenburg Art Sounds (SE), SPECTRA Aberdeen’s Festival of Light (UK) and Skálholt Summer Concerts (IS). In 2017 she founded together with Nguyễn Thanh Thủy (dan tranh) and Luong Hue Trinh (electronics) the Vietnamese/Icelandic improvisation ensemble ð. Halla Steinunn’s playing is featured on albums on the Sono Luminus, Brilliant Classics, Bad Taste Records, Mirjam Tally, Carrier Records, Musmap and Deutsche Grammophon labels. They have received various accolades, including The Iceland Music Award and the Swedish Manifest Prize. In . In 2015, Nordic Affect's album Clockworking, which inludes Halla Steinunn’s solo performances, was released by Sono Luminus. Clockworking was featured as Album of the Week on Q2 Music and Second Inversion. The title track was chosen for NPR's Songs We Love series and featured in various best-of-the-year lists, including Steve Smith's for Night After Night, The Chicago Reader, and The New Yorker. In spring 2017, Nordic Affect released Raindamage, an album resulting from a collaboration between the group and producer Valgeir Sigurðsson. The album was nominated for the Iceland Music Award and Kraumur Prize and was featured in various best-of-the-year-lists, The Chicago Reader, 5:4 and AnEarful.
Among upcoming projects is the release of H e (a) r on the Sono Luminus label, soundscapes for European Broadcasting Service’s Christmas broadcast, collaboration with composer Davíð Brynjar Franzson, performance with Nordic Affect as ensemble in residence at Dark Music Days in a project with Maja Ratkje, a stage work created with Liv Kaastrup Vesterskov and Etta Säfve and the release of ð’s debut album.
"Decades ago the Sugarcubes proved to the rest of the world that Icelandic rock was its own original creation - now Nordic Affect promises to do the same for the country's new-music community."
…perhaps the Ginnungagap out of which all music springs
Nordic Affect merits praise for advancing the chamber recording concept in such imaginative manner.