Praised by the New York Times as ”a charismatic cellist”, Saeunn Thorsteinsdottir has appeared as recitalist and chamber musician across the U.S., Germany, France, Poland, Italy and her native Iceland and she has performed concerti with the Des Moines Symphony (Iowa) and the Silesian Philharmonic (Poland), among others. Saeunn has garnered numerous top prizes, including most recently, the Janigro Family and Romanini Foundation Awards at the 2008 Antonio Janigro International Cello Competition in Zagreb, Croatia and the Zara Nelsova Prize in the 2008 Naumburg International Violoncello Competition in New York City.
An avid chamber musician, Saeunn has collaborated in performance with Itzhak Perlman, Kim Kashkashian, the Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players and the Cavani String Quartet in venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and her collaborative performances have been featured on WQXR New York and WCLV Cleveland as well as Icelandic National Radio. Starting in the fall of 2008, Saeunn is a member of Ensemble ACJW and a fellow of The Academy, a collaboration of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and The Weill Music Institute in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, performing chamber music at Carnegie Hall and bringing classical music to students in the New York City Public Schools.
An advocate of new music, Saeunn has premiered dozens of works, including most recently, commissioned works written for her by Daníel Bjarnason and Nicholas Csicsko. She frequently performs new music in New York City in venues such as The Stone and Le Poisson Rouge. Along with the masterpieces of the 18th, 19th and 20th century, Saeunn is constantly inspired by works composed in our time.
This season, Saeunn is soloist with the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra, Ridgewood Symphony as well as the Batuta National Youth Orchestra of Colombia. Along with a tour of the East Coast with the Musicians from Marlboro, her chamber music collaborations take her to Europe and back to the great halls in New York such as Alice Tully and Carnegie. Her debut solo CD comes out on Centaur Records with the Suites for Solo Cello by Benjamin Britten followed by release concerts that also premiere new works written for her by Kendall Briggs and Jeffrey Mumford.
In 2006, Saeunn received a Bachelor of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music with the highest honors for accomplishments in both cello and chamber music, the Ellis A. Feiman Memorial Award in Cello and the Bennett Levine Memorial Award in Chamber Music. She continued studies at The Juilliard School and completed a Master of Music degree in 2008. Her principal teachers include Richard Aaron, Tanya Carey and Joel Krosnick.
Saeunn has performed in master classes for Zara Nelsova, Anner Bylsma, Bernard Greenhouse and Steven Isserlis and was a featured soloist on NPR’s ”From the Top” and PBS’s “SundayArts”. She has been invited to festivals including the Perlman Chamber Music Workshop, Kneisel Hall, Villefavard Masterclasses in France, Kronberg Masterclasses in Germany, International Musician´s Seminar in Prussia Cove, England as well as the Sarasota and Marlboro Music Festivals.
A certified Suzuki teacher, Saeunn received her pedagogy training under Tanya Lesinsky Carey (former President of the Suzuki Association of the Americas), her longtime teacher and mentor. She has served as teaching assistant to Mrs. Carey at Meadowmount School of Music, Richard Aaron at ENCORE School for Strings, as well as having coached chamber music groups at the Chamber Music Connection, Columbus and CIM'’s Summer Chamber Music Program. As part of Saeunn’s work through The Academy, she teaches regularly at P.S. 28 in Brooklyn.
Born in 1984 in Reykjavik, Iceland, Saeunn now lives in New York City. She plays on a cello made in Milan, Italy circa 1790.