The choir has been at the forefront of Icelandic musical life for four decades. Founded in 1967 by its present conductor, Þorgerður Ingólfsdóttir, it was among the first college choirs in Iceland, and has maintained its leading position ever since. The choir, made up of students at Hamrahlíð College in Reykjavík, is an educational institution in its own right. More than 2,000 Icelandic teenagers have come into contact with classical music through the Hamrahlíð choral experience. Many of these have had no prior musical training, but through diligent practice they have gone on to participate in music-making of the highest quality, from new Icelandic compositions to the choral masterworks of Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart.

The Hamrahlíð Choir has been a breeding ground for many of Iceland’s leading singers, instrumentalists, and composers. Among the many musicians who are former members of the choir are singer/songwriter Björk Guðmundsdóttir, composer Haukur Tómasson (Nordic Council Music Prize 2004) and bass Kristinn Sigmundsson. In 1982, a choir made up of former students at Hamrahlíð College was founded and immediately established itself as one of Iceland’s leading choral ensembles.

Although the Hamrahlíð Choir is primarily devoted to musical education, it has from the very beginning been dedicated to giving performances of the highest quality. The choir sings with a pure, flexible, well-blended sound, and it performs with exuberance and a youthful sense of discovery. Critics throughout the world have praised its accurate intonation, clear diction, and the high level of enthusiasm and commitment that are among the hallmarks of the choir’s music-making.

Throughout its history, the choir has collaborated closely with Icelandic composers. Over 90 works have been composed especially for the choir, including works by virtually all of Iceland’s leading composers. Apart from its close association with native composers, the choir has collaborated with foreign artists such as Arvo Pärt, John Cage, and Vagn Holmboe in the first Icelandic performances of their works. Arvo Pärt was so impressed with the choir’s performance of his “Te Deum” in 1998 that he composed a choral work dedicated to Þorgerður Ingólfsdóttir, “…which was the son of…”, which was premièred in 2000.

With its dedication, passion, and spirit, the Hamrahlíð Choir has touched audiences around the world. The Choir has travelled to 23 countries and has performed at many of the world’s leading choral festivals to great acclaim, introducing audiences around the world to the rich legacy of Icelandic choral music.