Yan Pascal Tortelier enjoys a distinguished career as guest conductor of the world's most prestigious orchestras. He is born into one of France's most renowned musical family: his father was Paul Tortelier, one of the greatest cellists of the 20th century, and his mother was also a cellist. Yan Pascal began his musical career as a violinist and, at fourteen, won first prize for violin at the Paris Conservatoire, making his soloist debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra shortly after that. He later devoted his career to conducting and has collaborated with most of the world's leading orchestras, including the London Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras as well as the major orchestras of cities such as Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, St. Petersburg, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and Tokyo. Being the well-traveled man that he is, we thought it to be perfect to get his perspective on Reykjavik.

What is your relationship with Reykjavík?

An unexpected one, following several years of conducting the Sao Paulo Symphony in the South Atlantic. But I think I feel and even look more like a "Northerner," and the beauty of the North is more to my temperament. Reykjavík gives me the immediate breathing power of nature. Above all, it has one of the best Orchestra and concert hall I can think of. Being the chief conductor of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and coming to make music fortnights at a time, several times per season with my friends in the Orchestra, what more could I wish for?

What does your perfect day in Reykjavik look like?

A morning with a full breakfast, including Icelandic rye bread, herring, gravadlax and eggs followed by three hours of fantastic symphonic rehearsing with the great players from the Iceland Symphony Orchestra at Harpa. In the afternoon I would love to go whale watching in a speedboat and close of the day with dinner at the excellent restaurant at the top of Harpa.
After my weekly concert, an escape to the vast Icelandic countryside which offers all the scenic beauties I so love about this country – nature at its best.

What is your personal recommendation on what to do in Reykjavík?

Don't miss the Johannes Kjarval Museum, Kjarvalsstadir, the Icelandic painter I consider one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. And the most curious thing about Reykjavík is the hot dog business. Be sure to try one!