Bedroom Community

Daníel Bjarnason

Daníel Bjarnason studied piano, composition and conducting in Reykjavík, Iceland before leaving to study orchestral conducting at the Freiburg University of Music, Germany.  

As a composer, Daníel has worked with many different orchestras and ensembles including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Ulster Orchestra, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Nieuw Ensemble Amsterdam and Sinfonietta Cracovia. Performances of his compositions have been led by conductors such as Gustavo Dudamel, James Conlon, John Adams, Ilan Volkov, André de Ridder and Alexander Mickelthwate.    

Daníel is currently writing several new works including a new reed ensemble/choral work for Calefax and Nederlands Kamerkoor which premieres in March 2014 and a new trio for Trio Ariadne which will premiere in the Weill Hall, Sonoma in April 2014. He is also working on his third studio album, which will be released in 2015.  

2013 saw Daníel premiere two new works. Blow Bright, written for large orchestra, was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The world premiere took place in December in Walt Disney Concert Hall and was conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. The orchestra will perform the piece with Dudamel on their North American tour in March 2014.  Qui Tollis, written for the percussion quartet So Percussion, was commissioned by the MusicNow festival, Cincinnati. The world premiere took place in Cincinnati in April and received its European premiere one month later in the Barbican, London.    

In 2012 Daníel premiered two new works. The Isle Is Full Of Noises, written for orchestra and children's chorus, was commissioned by the Los Angeles Childrens Chorus and American Youth Symphony. The premiere took place in early March and was conducted by James Conlon. Over Light Earth, a chamber orchestra work commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Barbican, premiered in early October and was conducted by renowned composer John Adams. Both world premieres took place in the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.  

Daníel’s versatility as an arranger and conductor has led to collaborations with a broad array of musicians outside the classical field. In 2010 Daníel collaborated with composer Ben Frost to create Music for Sólaris, a new work for string orchestra, percussion, prepared piano and electronics. The live performance features visual manipulations by Brian Eno and Nick Robertson. This work was written, arranged and performed by Ben Frost and Daníel Bjarnason, and received its World Premiere in Krakow, Poland in October of that year. The North American premiere took place at the Lincoln Center, New York in April 2011, and in November 2011 the studio recordings were released through the Bedroom Community label. This work has since been performed live throughout Europe and the US, and received its Australian premiere at the Adelaide Festival in March 2013.  

Daníel has won numerous awards and grants and in 2013 he was awarded Best Composer by the Icelandic Music Awards for his compositions The Isle Is Full Of Noises and Over Light Earth. In 2008 and 2011 he was awarded a special recommendation for his work at the International Rostrum for Composers. In 2010 he was nominated for the prestigious Nordic Council's Music Prize, and won the Kraumur Music Award.  

Daníel's debut album, Processions, was released in 2010 and was met with international acclaim with Time Out NY declaring that Bjarnason 'create(s) a sound that comes eerily close to defining classical musics undefinable brave new world'. Later that year Processions won the Best Composer/Best Composition category at the Icelandic Music Awards.  

In 2013 Daníel released his second solo album, Over Light Earth. A collection of three works; ‘Over Light Earth’, ‘Emergence’ and ‘Solitudes’, it was described as an  ‘atmospheric, beautifully produced collection of chamber works’ (Sinfini) and praised by mainstream, classical and indie media alike for its ‘excellent performances’ (Gramophone).  

‘Intensely intimate while still being inherently grandiose in scope...the result is a sonic canvas that is undeniably thin but with a tightly woven fabric that maintains its integrity throughout...a stunning and definitive statement from a composer poised to make meaningful contributions to the symphonic repertoire for years to come.’ (I Care If You Listen)  

As an arranger, Daníel’s string arrangements can be heard on the new Sigur Rós album, Kveikur (2013). This is his third collaboration with the group. In 2012 he contributed the score to the feature film The Deep. The composition was awarded Best Film Score at the Icelandic Film And Television Awards in 2013 and nominated for Best Original Score at the Harpa Nordic Film Composers Awards 2013. 

What the press says

...completely unique.

Arts Wrap (August 11th 2013) Read all reviews

This unearthly record by award-winning Icelandic artist Daníel Bjarnason is as ghostly and ethereal as the album artwork. Full-bodied soundscapes blend with half-harmonised snippets to create something complete, yet only partly tangible

The List (September 20th 2013) Read all reviews

It’s scarier than anything Bjarnason has done before, filled with the measured fury of a people who have had time to let their discontent really settle in.

Fluid Radio (September 20th 2013) Read all reviews

More exciting are the clashing layers of shimmering strings and turbulent horns on the three-part Emergence, whose lumbering, ominous melody hits its conclusion without resolving the piece’s unsettling harmonies, making for a tension-riddled trip to the very end.

Peter Margasak — Chicago Reader (September 23rd 2013) Read all reviews

...the music often sounds as if it’s suspended in space; woodwinds and strings swirl around pointillistic, muted piano notes and clusters; swells of brass splotch a sonic canvas of pulsing strings that hints at a shimmering surface underpinned by both meditative calm and chaos.

Q2 (September 24th 2013) Read all reviews

It’s the kind of ambitious narrative neoclassical work which fans of Valgeir Sigurðsson and Johann Johannsson will doubtless enjoy, beautifully realised and emotionally rousing, swimming with life and drama and tension.

Norman Records (October 3rd 2013) ★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

...stunning and definitive statement from a composer poised to make meaningful contributions to the symphonic repertoire for years to come

Daniel Kushner — I Care If You Listen (October 28th 2013) Read all reviews

... this evening afforded the audience intimate access to one of the most exciting, thoughtful and inspired composers working today.

Burke Jam — Reykjavík Grapevine (November 5th 2013) Read all reviews

He’s a dynamic modern composer, one worth watching more closely.

Matthew Fiander — PopMatters (November 5th 2013) ★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

like a slightly uneasy ride on LSD

Alex Lee Thomson — Drowned In Sound (November 12th 2013) ★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

...the music Daníel composes are instrumental soundscape pieces that take the listener on a spiritual journey.

The Wall Breakers (November 21st 2013) Read all reviews

With fierce intelligence confirmed, Bjarnason now seems primed for a romp through the rest of the 21st century.

Richard Allen — A Closer Listen (December 3rd 2013) Read all reviews

The results are nothing short of staggering.

Fractured Air (December 5th 2013) Read all reviews

This record is intentional, poignant, and brimming with profound vision.

Burke Jam — Reykjavík Grapevine (December 11th 2013) Read all reviews

...expect to see much more of Bjarnason’s music over the years ahead.

Richard Whitehouse — Gramophone (December 18th 2013) Read all reviews

 Processions deserves to be [Bjarnason's] global breakthrough. It’s the sound of fire and instinct, the musical equivalent of a controlled burn. Perhaps all sounds to silence come, but thanks to Bjarnason, that sonic Armageddon seems a long distance away.   

Richard Allen — The Silent Ballet (January 27th 2010) ★★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews

“Surely one of the most bombastic modern classical albums you’re likely to hear all year”.

Boomkat (February 1st 2010) Read all reviews

 “Daniel Bjarnason brings the magic of Icelandic music to the classical world. A musical statement not to be missed.” 


Tyler Fisher — SputnikMusic (April 28th 2010) ★★★★★★★★★ Read all reviews



Ben Frost & Daníel Bjarnason - Cruel Miracles

A teaser for SÓLARIS by Ben Frost & Daníel Bjarnason featuring the song Cruel Miracles.

Ben Frost & Daníel Bjarnason - Saccades

A teaser for SÓLARIS by Ben Frost & Daníel Bjarnason featuring the song Saccades.

Ben Frost & Daníel Bjarnason - Reyja

A teaser for SÓLARIS by Ben Frost & Daníel Bjarnason featuring the song Reyja.

Daníel Bjarnason - Air to Breath

Video by Una Lorenzen, music by Daníel Bjarnason. The visuals are made from photographs and 16mm shots from Iceland, by Þorbjörg Jónsdóttir.

Daníel Bjarnason - Blood to Bones

Video by Una Lorenzen, music by Daníel Bjarnason. The visuals are made from photographs and 16mm shots from Iceland, by Þorbjörg Jónsdóttir.

Daníel Bjarnason - Sorrow Conquers Happiness

Video by Una Lorenzen, music by Daníel Bjarnason. The visuals are made from photographs and 16mm shots from Iceland, by Þorbjörg Jónsdóttir.

Daníel Bjarnason - Processions (live at the Icelandic Music Awards 2010)

Composer of the Year, Daniel Bjarnason presents a special excerpt from his Piano Concerto - Processions. With soloist Vikingur Heidar Olafsson, strings and percussion.

Draumalandið (Dreamland) Music Examples

Here are a few music examples from Draumalandið (Dreamland), a documentary about the exploitation of Iceland’s natural resources, tells a story about huge things—the fortunes of a whole nation; the destruction of vast landscapes; and the global economic forces, greater still than any nation, that fuel it all—and for his soundtrack to the film, Valgeir has brought out a heavier set of tools. His entire roster of Bedroom Community labelmates contributes in some way to the creation of the score: classical composers Nico Muhly and Daníel Bjarnason, industrial wizard Ben Frost, and American folksinger Sam Amidon, along with a host of others, and the small orchestra assembled for the record swells from moments of expansive beauty into massive, surging symphonic force. Its harmonies are anxious, pulsing, driven.

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Over Light Earth
Released on 30 September 2013
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Released on 1 February 2010
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