News Release


December 3, 2018 – OTTAWA (Canada) – The National Arts Centre is very pleased to announce that Arna Einarsdóttir, Managing Director of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra (ISO), will become the new Managing Director of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra. She will take up her post in the spring of 2019.

Since 2013, Ms. Einarsdóttir has been the Managing Director of the ISO, the national symphony orchestra of Iceland and the only professional orchestra in the country. It performs more than 100 concerts and activities each season. In her role, she managed a successful turnaround for the Orchestra, which is now debt-free and has posted a surplus every year since 2014. She led the search process for and signed a three-year contract with the world renowned conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier as Chief Conductor in 2015. She also signed Osmo Vänskä as ISO’s Principal Guest Conductor in 2014, and as Honourary Conductor in 2017. She further strengthened the ISO’s artistic team by creating an assistant conductor position, as well as a composer-in-residence that mentors two to three young composers each year.  

Ms. Einarsdóttir increased the orchestra’s international reach. In November 2018, the Orchestra performed 12 concerts on a prestigious tour of Japan, and during the 2019–2020 season the Orchestra will undertake two tours to Germany and the U.K. In addition, the Orchestra took part in the BBC Proms in 2014, and was invited to perform in the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra’s subscription series in 2017.

“Arna Einarsdóttir is a brilliant 21st century leader who knows how to enable an orchestra to thrive artistically and to triumph on the world stage,” said Christopher Deacon, President and CEO of the National Arts Centre. “Her strong commitment to touring, new creation and education, and her ability to strengthen artistic teams, will make her the perfect administrative leader for the National Arts Centre Orchestra. “We look forward to welcoming her. She and Alexander Shelley will form an outstanding partnership.”

“I am honoured and excited to accept the post of managing director of an organisation of such musical stature as the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa,” said Arna Einarsdóttir. “I feel enormous pride and the full weight of the responsibility of being offered a place at the heart of one of Canada's most important cultural institutions. I look forward to joining the excellent artistic and management team and to play an important part in working towards the artistic vision of the NAC.”

“Arna Einarsdóttir is deeply committed to musical excellence, and shares my belief that an orchestra can play an integral role in the life of a city, and of an entire country,” said Music Director Alexander Shelley. “As the NAC becomes more welcoming, open and accessible, she is the perfect person to help the NAC Orchestra engage even more deeply with our audience, and with all Canadians.”            

“I am delighted to welcome Arna to head NAC Orchestra’s outstanding management team,” said Principal Oboe Chip Hamann. “As a former professional orchestra musician who later became the visionary and successful administrative leader of her country’s national orchestra, she will be a perfect fit for us as NACO expands its artistic reach throughout Canada and internationally.”

Ms. Einarsdóttir began at the Iceland Symphony Orchestra in 2007 as Concerts Director, where she produced more than 80 concerts and shows, including around 20 educational and outreach projects. She was also at the forefront of leading the work to found the ISO Youth Orchestra in 2009, and developed projects and programs for young audiences. An accomplished musician, she was Second Flute with the ISO between 2000 and 2004. A graduate of Reykjavík Music College, she also holds an MA of Cultural Administration from the University of Bifröst, Iceland, as well as a postgraduate diploma from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, U.K.


Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra is a world-class ensemble of outstanding classical musicians from across Canada and around the world, under the inspiring leadership of Music Director Alexander Shelley.  Formed in 1969, the Orchestra gives about 100 performances a year in Ottawa, across Canada and around the globe, working with diverse artists of international renown. In May 2019 the Orchestra will embark on a seven-city tour through the U.K., France, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark, in honour of the National Arts Centre’s 50th anniversary. The Orchestra breaks boundaries with its regular commissions of new Canadian creations, including the critically acclaimed, immersive work Life Reflected, which will be performed during the European Tour. The NAC Orchestra reaches a wide audience through national and international tours, recordings, extensive educational outreach across Canada and on tour, and via the websites and


The National Arts Centre (NAC) is the only bilingual, multi-disciplinary performing arts centre in Canada and one of the largest in the world. The NAC presents 1,300 performances a year in Music, Dance, Theatre, and Contemporary Music. The NAC’s mandate is to work with artists and arts organizations across the country to support the performing arts everywhere and to create a national stage.




Annabelle Cloutier
Executive Director, Communications and Public Affairs,
National Arts Centre
613 947-7000 x260



Arna Kristín Einarsdóttir has been at the forefront of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra since 2007. She first served as the orchestra’s concerts director, and in 2013 was appointed as managing director. In that role, she has been responsible for the organization meeting its overall artistic and financial goals and objectives. The Iceland Symphony Orchestra is the national symphony orchestra of Iceland and the only professional orchestra in the country. It employs more than 110 individuals and performs more than 100 concerts and activities per season. In 2011, the orchestra moved into a new concert hall, Harpa, which has become one of Reykjavík’s landmarks and has more than two million visitors a year. Before moving into management, Arna played second flute with the orchestra from 2000–2004 and had a successful career as a flutist, both in Iceland as well as in England. Arna holds a master’s degree in Cultural Management from Bifröst University in Iceland; a Soloist Performance Exam from Reykjavík Music College in Iceland; a Postgraduate Diploma from Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England; and a Professional Performance degree from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Arna has three children aged 26, 14 and nine and is married to graphic designer Hilmar Þorsteinn Hilmarsson.

Join our email list for the latest updates!