Icelandic Composer Skúli Sverrisson’s “Alltaf” Comes to Life in Stunning Performance With Ólöf Arnalds and SinfoniaNord

KEXP Premiere
Dusty Henry

Back in 2018 on my first trip to Iceland with KEXP, I had the pleasure of witnessing Skúli Sverrisson perform a session at the KEX Hostel alongside Bára Gísladóttir. While the two improvised that performance, it felt like peering into how their compositional minds create as they both formed musical passages on their bass instruments. From that moment, became transfixed with both of their seemingly endless projects.  

Sverrisson in particular has been a prolific collaborator, working with legendary acts like Ryuichi Sakamoto, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, and numerous others. He doesn’t show any sign of slowing down work with other artists. Today, it is a distinct pleasure to share a stirring video for his latest composition “Alltaf.” The song features notable Icelandic talent from vocalist Ólöf Arnalds singing with the SinfoniaNord Orchestra and led by conductor Atli Örvarsson as a part of Reykjavik-based record label INNI’s recent single series. 

“Ever since I heard Ólöf Arnalds for the first time, I imagined her voice in an orchestral setting, so when INNI approached me to record with SinfoniaNord I immediately chose Alltaf, a piece I wrote especially for her,” Sverrisson tells KEXP. “The orchestra, led by Atli Örvarsson, generously and effortlessly gave Ólöf the opportunity to let the timeless quality of her voice shine and Blair Alexander captured that moment beautifully.”

It makes sense to hear Sverrisson composed this with Arnalds’ voice in mind. Her voice feels one with the orchestra, operatic and swooning with the elegant strings gliding beneath her. To watch her perform in this gorgeous black and white video emphasizes this idea, performing effortlessly amongst the crowd of her fellow musicians. 

Watch the video and revisit Sverrisson’s 2018 KEXP session below. 

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