HÖRÐUR ÁSKELSSON was born in Akureyri in the north of Iceland in 1953. He studied music in Akureyri and Reykjavík, before moving to Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1976 to study at the Robert Schumann Hochschule. He graduated as organist and choir conductor in 1981 with summa cum laude. After a year as Music Director in the Neanderkirche in Düsseldorf Áskelsson was appointed Music Director of Hallgrímskirkja in 1982.
In the same year he founded the Motet Choir of Hallgrímskirkja and was instigator of the founding of the Friends of the Arts Society of Hallgrímskirkja, which are twin cornerstones to the artistic activities in the church. In 1987 he established the Festival of Sacred Arts, since then a biannual event on the cultural scene in Iceland. In 1993 he founded the concert series “The Hallgrimskirkja International Organ Summer” and in 1996 Áskelsson founded the chamber choir Schola cantorum, which has become one of Iceland’s most respected choirs.
Hörður Áskelsson has received much recognition, and with his choirs he has participated in various music festivals and international competitions, winning prizes in Cork, Ireland 1996, Noyon, France 1998, Gorizia, Italy 2002 and Catalonia Spain 2014 (four gold awards and Grand Prix). He has conducted many oratorios, often with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, and premiered a number of Icelandic compositions. His performances have been recorded for radio and television and issued on numerous CDs. A recording of the oratorio Passía by Hafliði Hallgrímsson conducted by Áskelsson and released by the internationally renowned record company Ondine has received outstanding reviews in BBC Music Magazine, Gramophone, International Record Review and other media.
Hörður Áskelsson has also been a teacher of the organ and choir conducting at the Iceland National Church’s Music School and in 1985-95 he was lecturer on liturgy at the University of Iceland Faculty of Theology. In the year 2000 Áskelsson was musical director of the events held to celebrate the Millennium of Christianity in Iceland. In 2002 he received both the Icelandic Music Prize and the Culture Prize of the newspaper DV for his outstanding activities in the year 2001. He was appointed Municipal Artist of Reykjavík in 2002, received the Knight’s Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon in 2004 and the Icelandic Optimism Prize in 2006. From 2005 to 2011, Hörður served as Director of Music for the National Icelandic Church.