Karin Rehnqvist (born 1957) is one of Sweden’s best-known and widely performed composers. With regular performances throughout Europe, USA and Scandinavia, her range extends to chamber, orchestral, stage, and vocal music. Above all, she enjoys working with unusual, cross-genre forms and ensembles. One strong characteristic feature of her work is her exploration of the areas between art and folk music. Both elements are integral and never merely used for effect or as a nostalgic element. In particular, Rehnqvist has explored the extraordinary and dramatic vocal technique of Kulning.
Between 1976 and 1991 Karin Rehnqvist conducted and was the artistic director of the choir Stans Kör. This cemented her special affinity with vocal music and also fired her interest in experimental approaches to concert presentation.
Between 2000 and 2004 Rehnqvist was Composer in Residence with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Svenska Kammarorkestern in collaboration. For them she composed a series of works including a concerto for young clarinetist, Martin Fröst, and the much performed symphonic work, Arktis Arktis!, inspired by a polar expedition in the summer of 1999. These two works features in Rehnqvist’s latest CD on the BIS label, released to critical acclaim in May 2005.
Rehnqvist’s skill at writing for musicians of different abilities, and especially young performers, has often been praised: like the best music for young performers, her works make no artistic compromises, and challenge the musicians while recognizing realistic technical limits. Most recently her choral symphony Light of Light, which features children’s choir and symphony orchestra, was singled out for critical acclaim at its world premiere in Paris in 2004, and has enjoyed subsequent performances in the UK and Sweden.
Karin Rehnqvist has received many prizes for her music: In 1996 the Läkerol Arts Award “for her renewal of the relationship between folk music and art music”. The same year she was awarded the ‘Spelmannen’ prize by the daily newspaper Expressen, and in 1997 she received the Christ Johnson Prize for Solsången (Sun Song). In 2001 she was awarded the Kurt Atterberg Prize and in 2005/06 the Rosenberg Award. Also in March 2006 Rehnqvist was accorded the honour of a major retrospective by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. Over the course of a long weekend a wide range of her music was performed – from the world premiere of her latest orchestral work (Preludes for Large Orchestra) to another world premiere of an open air piece – for brass, singers and market traders. Many of Rehnqvist’s most widely performed works were heard, including Arktisi! Arktis! (performed with visuals), Puksånger-lockrop and Solsången. 2007 Karin Rehnqvist was awarded the Hugo Alfvén Prize.
Future plans include an opera, commissioned by The Stockholm Royal Opera. It is expected to be premiered during the 2017–2018 season.
Karin Rehnqvist has 2009 been appointed Professor of Composition at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. This makes her the first woman to hold a chair in composition in Sweden.