New Icelandic Port to Link Asia, Europe, and US

Representatives of Langanesbyggð and Vopnafjarðarhreppur municipalities, German company Bremenports, and engineering firm Efla sign a contract today for the construction of a new harbour in Finnafjörður fjord, Northeast Iceland. RÚV reports that the harbour is intended to be an international container port connecting Asia, Europe, and the eastern United States.

The area covered by the port measures some 1,300 hectares (3,200 acres) and includes 6km of wharves. The project, which has been in development for several years, recently received ISK 18 million ($150,000/€133,000) in funding from the Ministry of Transport and Local Government.

The port’s realisation is a long-term venture, expected to take decades to design and build.

Kingfisher Spotted in Iceland

A belted kingfisher was spotted in Iceland yesterday morning. Ornithologist Jóhann Óli Hilmarsson says this is only the seventh time the species has been seen in the country. The bird is not native to Iceland. RÚV reported first.

The bird was spotted by Varmá river in Mosfellsbær, just 20 minutes outside Reykjavík. It is believed to be the same kingfisher which was seen (but not photographed) at the same location last November. Jóhann Óli says the bird may have been carried to Iceland by a hurricane.

Belted kingfishers are widespread in Canada and the United States. The birds usually migrate south to Mexico, Central America, or even northern South America during the winter. Some individuals, however, have been known to linger in the northern parts of their range throughout winter, provided there are open bodies of water nearby.

Víkingur Wins Top BBC Music Prize

Pianist Víkingur Heiðar Ólafsson.

Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson snagged the top prize at this year’s BBC Music Magazine Awards, winning Recording of the Year for his album Johann Sebastian Bach. The album was also awarded Instrumental Recording of the Year at the prestigious awards.

“Víkingur Ólafsson’s beautifully crafted Bach programme is a balm for the ears,” wrote the awards jury. “His mix of original keyboard works and arrangements by a host of pianist-composers is played with such joy – his articulation is pin-sharp, his dynamic and tonal control constant delights. If ever there was an album to demonstrate Bach’s timelessness, this is it.”

“I am very touched to win this important award and to know that people enjoy listening to it,” says Ólafsson. “Playing and recording Bach is in many ways the most personal thing one can do in music, and I am very grateful for the incredibly kind and generous reactions.”

The album, Víkingur’s second with Deutsche Grammophon, has received accolades since its release in September 2018. Last December, Víkingur’s interpretation of Bach’s Fugue in A minor was named one of the top 25 classical music tracks of the year by the New York Times.