Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson has been appointed as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s principal flute, effective May 30. Riccardo Muti, CSO music director, and Jeff Alexander, CSO Association president, announced the appointment on Oct. 2.
It’s a role he knows well. Currently the principal flute of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, he graduated to that post in 2008. “The principal player is a solo voice — part of the texture, part of the blend, but much more at the top of the musical line, so to speak,” Höskuldsson said in a 2014 interview. “The principal player has to have distinctive colors of sound [that act as] different voices.”
CSO audiences have already seen Höskuldsson in action; he appeared as guest principal flute in the CSO’s 2015-16 season-opening weeks of concerts (Sept. 17–Oct. 3) with Muti. The flutist also will perform with the CSO on its Asia tour in January.
Born in Iceland in 1975, Höskuldsson served as the Met Orchestra’s second flute from 2004-2008. He also has performed as guest principal flute with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York. As a soloist, he has performed with the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan, and at the Sir James Galway International Flute Festival in Lucerne, Switzerland. Over his career, he has played under the direction of James Levine, Fabio Luisi, Valery Gergiev, Daniel Barenboim, Seiji Ozawa and Esa-Pekka Salonen, and has . collaborated in performances and recordings with such renowned artists as pianists Evgeny Kissin, Alfred Brendel and Yefim Bronfman, violinist Gil Shaham, and sopranos Diana Damrau and Anna Netrebko.
He attended the Reykjavik School of Music in Iceland, where he studied with Bernhard Wilkinson. After graduating, he attended the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England, studying with Peter Lloyd and Wissam Boustany. Höskuldsson, who currently teaches at a private studio in New York City, has been a faculty member with the Pacific Music Festival since 2010. He also has given master classes at The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Mannes College of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Academy of Music.
His debut solo album, Solitude, with music by Schubert, Liebermann, Prokofiev and Jóhannsson, was released in June on the Delos label. He plays an Emanuel flute, made by a Boston-based company established in 1991, which builds flutes specifically for an individual artist.
TOP: Before taking up his CSO post, Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson performed with the orchestra for its season-opening concerts. | Todd Rosenberg Photography 2015
VIDEO: Stefán Ragnar Höskuldsson plays Gabriel Faure’s Morceau de concours, via YouTube.