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 been commissioned and worked with many different orchestras and ensembles including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, the Ulster Orchestra, Sinfonietta Cracovia, So Percussion, Decoda and the Icleand Symphony Orchestra. Performances of his compositions have been led by conductors such as Gustavo Dudamel, Louis Langrée, James Conlon, John Adams, Ilan Volkov, André de Ridder, Anna-Maria Helsing and Alexander Mickelthwate. Daníels versatility has also led to collaborations with a broad array of musicians outside the classical field including Sigur Rós, Hjaltalín, Efterklang and Ben Frost.
Recent projects for Daniel include a premiere of Collider, a new work for large orchestra co-commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. A new work, Frames, for the Rambert Dance Company in the UK and the string quartet Stillshot, for the Calder Quartet. All these works were premiered in March and April 2015.
The next big project for Daníel is writing an opera for the Danish National Opera in Aarhus. The opera is based on the Susanne Bier film Brothers and will have its premiere in 2017 as part of the Aarhus – Culture Capital of Europe celebrations. Libretto will be written by Kerstin Perski and director is Annilese Miskimmon.
Daníel has won numerous awards and grants and in 2013 and 2015 he was awarded Best Composer by the Icelandic Music Awards for his compositions. 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 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, Daníels 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.