Sunniva Brynnel is a Swedish accordionist, vocalist and composer within improvised music, folk music, devotional music and more.
She has toured extensively in Sweden and the US, and have recorded and/or performed in Norway, Denmark, Ireland, England, Slovakia, France, Hawai’i. As a freelancing musician for over ten years, she has shared the stage with amongst others Timo Alakotila, Neil Yates, Praful, Peruquois, Dave Douglas, Dónal Clancy, Corey DiMario and many others.
She is the recipient of Albin Hagström Minnesfond’s scholarship for accordionists through the Royal Academy in Stockholm, Anders Holger Gustafssons Musikfond, as well as having received substantial support throughout her music studies from Gull & Stellan Ljungbergs Stiftelse.
Sunniva comes from a lineage of seven generations of female musicians, and her mother – a Swedish folk singer – is one of her major influences. She was born in Uddevalla on the Swedish west coast and started to play the piano at the age of 5. From the age of ten, she went to a primary school which had a special focus on music – especially choir singing.
Aged 18, Sunniva studied world and pop music full time at Ljungskile FHSK, Sweden.
She then went on to study Irish/Gaelic singing and music at DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama in Dublin. Her vocal teacher at DIT was Seosaimhin Ni Bheaglaoich.
After a year spent in Dublin, she moved on to study jazz performance at Birka FHSK outside Östersund, Sweden. This year; living in the Swedish snowy midlands by beautiful lake Storsjön, and having both inspiring teachers as well as brilliant fellow students, made a big impact on Sunniva’s playing and composing.
At Birka FHSK, Sunniva met guitarist Calle Jönsson, who insisted that every folk pianist should also play the accordion. And sure enough – she got herself an accordion and never looked back.
To be able to immerse herself in both jazz and the music of the British Isles, Sunniva then went on to study a BA jazz at Leeds College of Music, England, with composition as her major subject. Within her degree at LCoM she composed everything from small sized ensemble works to big band pieces.
While in the UK, Sunniva was also fortunate to study with accordionists such as Karen Tweed, Piero Tucci, Ian Lowthian and Murray Grainger.
Sunniva graduated from Leeds College of Music in July 2012 (BA Jazz 1st class honours). She also has a Swedish music teaching degree from Gothenburg University (2016).
Sunniva is currently based in Boston, US, where she graduated with a Masters of Music in Contemporary Improvisation (Academic Honours) from The New England Conservatory in May 2018.
Her teachers at The New England Conservatory include: Ran Blake, Jason Moran, Jerry Bergonzi, Hankus Netsky, Dominique Eade and Frank Carlberg.
In the spring of 2020, Sunniva became a Certified Deep Listening Instructor (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, NY, USA), and she is currently enjoying facilitating groups in Deep Listening. Deep Listening is the lifework of American accordionist and composer Pauline Oliveros.
Her current musical projects include:
Sunniva Brynnel Group – jazz quartet based in Boston, US
Blå Dager – folk music quartet from the Swedish West Coast
Sunniva Brynnel & Timo Alakotila Duo – this folk music and originals duo released their self-titled debut album in July 2016. The album is available on all major digital platforms
Sunniva Brynnel & Yaniv Yacoby – Swedish and Celtic folk music on accordion/voice and Irish bouzouki
Masterplants – improvised music to the music of plants
Mareld –Swedish folk group from the Swedish West Coast playing traditional music and originals
Sunniva also writes music for theatre and dance, as well as being a passionate musician for Contact Improvisation and different tantric events and yoga practices.
Sunniva’s original music and recordings has been broadcast on for example Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Irish and American radio stations.