City Paper is not for tourists
She’s a critically lauded musician from Iceland who’s a bit of an enigma. A self-described introvert with extroverted ideas, she draws her inspiration from her country’s natural environment (glaciers, volcanoes, northern lights, and the like) to create quirky, atmospheric music that isn’t immediately accessible but ultimately impressive in scope and vision. In interviews, she expresses a childlike wonder with the world around her in a chirpy voice that comes off as an act, until you realize she’s dead serious. That’s right, it’s Anna Thorvaldsdottir, who, along with Alaska’s John Luther Adams and Finland’s Kaija Saariaho and Magnus Lindberg, is part of the current contemporary classical trend: hot composers from cold environments. On Thursday, her work gets a full program by the International Contemporary Ensemble, a crack chamber group that often collaborates with her, having recently recorded her well received album In the Light of Air. It can’t get much more atmospheric than that. It’s an inevitable hazard for musicians from Iceland to get compared to a certain other Icelandic musician (no, not Sigur Rós). But if Thorvaldsdottir cared, she’d try a little harder not to have so many things in common with you-know-who. The International Contemporary Ensemble performs at 6:30 p.m. at the Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St. NW. $15–$30. (202) 387-2151. phillipscollection.org.