Photo: Lilja Birgisdóttir

Gyða Valtýsdóttir (IS)

Performer & multi-instrumentalist

The winner

Gyða Valtýsdóttir is an Icelandic musician who is classically trained but unbound by genre. At an early age she was a founding member of the lauded electronic experimental band múm.  A multifaceted performer, she has since been a prominent part of Iceland’s music scene.

Fundamentally a classically trained cellist, Gyða has in recent years been performing her own music as well as collaborating with other musicians across genres. She has used her training to fulfil her visions and delivers her holistic approach to music in an organic way and with admirable technique. Gyða’s music and performance is highly unique and captivating, demonstrating a special sense of phrasing and timing. She is a particularly distinctive performer with a fascinating, earthy presence in live performance – a presence that is fragile and subtle, yet powerful and temperamental. Her deeply personal and organic performance is eminent throughout, whether playing the cello, singing, using her distinctive vocals, or playing other instruments, and has a fundamental originality to it.

Gyða crosses and bridges the gap between musical genres in a unique way, not least by dismissing any notion of their differences. Whether performing her own music or the music of others she brings her personal originality to the music through her instrumental inventiveness.

Gyða Valtýsdóttir came to prominence with lauded electronic experimentalists múm in the early ‘00s. In 2017 Gyða released the album Epicycle, a constellation of pieces by the likes of Schubert, Schumann and Messiaen, but also more experimental composers like Harry Partch and George Crumb. Gyða went into the core of the music, swaying it instinctively to her unique interpretation. In 2018 she released the aptly named Evolution, an exquisite affair, building on her forays into the classical world but weaving experimental and modern strands into the tapestry. Strings swirl, electronics hum gently, voices enter – and then exit – gracefully. A sturdy yet elegant album – delicate and powerful at the same time. Gyða's career is growing by leaps and bounds at the moment, her first soundtrack (to the film Mihkel/Undir halastjörnu) was released last year and her live performances have been ecstatically received, where her distinctive vocals, instrumental inventiveness and highly personal charm underline a dignified craftsmanship.