Iceland Symphony Gets Dream London Gig Skip to content

Iceland Symphony Gets Dream London Gig

By Iceland Review

A long-held ambition of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra will be realized this summer when the orchestra holds its first concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

The director of the orchestra told RÚV that the ISO will play London as part of the Proms, which is the biggest classical music festival in the world. The Icelandic authorities are set to financially assist with the trip.

The BBC now organizes and runs the Proms, which last for two months every summer, and have been going for the last 120 years. There are around a hundred events connected to the festival.

“Ilan Volkov, who is our main conductor, has been a regular guest there in recent years with his orchestra, the Scottish BBC Orchestra, so he has become well known there, and that is one of the reasons this is happening. But this has been a long-running dream of ours and it is now coming true,” ISO director Arna Kristín Einarsdóttir says.

The Proms’ long history is testament to the fact that it is a large and very significant festival in the classical music world. “In our classical world, this is the biggest music festival,” Arna Kristín adds.

The festival was originally designed to get classical music (known simply as ‘music’ back then) to as wide an audience as possible. As a result, the tone is usually light and fun.

This will be the ISO’s first performance at the world famous Royal Albert Hall, where the seats will have been removed and the audience will be standing – making the atmosphere reminiscent of a rock concert. The large crowd, top quality venue and the Friday evening billing are evidence that the BBC is as pleased with the arrangement as the ISO is.

Arna says that the concert is not only a great advertisement for the ISO, but also for Iceland as well, and that two Icelandic pieces will be played at the concert: Magma, by Haukur Tómasson; and Geysir, by Jón Leifs. The ISO will also play Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.

The ISO has not had many opportunities to travel overseas since the financial crisis, as a trip like this one costs over ISK 20 million (USD 178,000/EUR 128,000) to arrange. The trip will be partly funded by fees from the concert itself, but also by a government grant.

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