Iceland’s artists and cultural institutions are finding ways to lift the nation’s spirits during the four-week gathering ban that began on Monday to slow the spread of COVID-19. Whether its bringing music to nursing homes on lockdown, or live-streaming book readings, Icelanders are finding new ways of sharing culture from a safe distance.
Musicians cheer seniors
Many of Iceland’s nursing homes have been closed to visitors for several weeks due to the coronavirus. That didn’t stop musicians from showing up to cheer residents of nursing homes across the country yesterday. In Akureyri, North Iceland, singer Friðrik Ómar Hjörleifsson sang outside the Hlíð home for the elderly as residents and staff listened from windows and balconies. In the Reykjavík capital area, a group of musicians performed for the residents of Ísafold in Garðabær.
Both performed the song Í fjarlægð (In the Distance), by Karl O. Rúnólfsson. The song’s lyrics, written by Valdimar H. Hallstað, are apt for the circumstances: they express longing for a distant loved one.
Theatres move to internet, radio
Reykjavík City Theatre has announced it will be streaming live readings of Giovanni Boccaccio’s 14th-century novel The Decameron throughout Iceland’s gathering ban. The novel is a topical choice: it is a collection of 100 tales told by a group of young men and women secluded outside Florence to escape the Black Death. The group tells each other stories to provide entertainment and relief from the crisis. Musician Bubbi Morthens, whose career was the subject of a newly-premiered musical at the City Theatre, will be live streaming concerts from its stage every Friday during the gathering ban.
The National Theatre and national broadcaster RÚV are collaborating to bring the nation poetry readings during the gathering ban. Icelanders can send in poem requests or choose from a list of suggestions. Every weekday during the gathering ban, one individual will be invited to the National Theatre for a private live reading of their chosen poem. The performances will also be broadcasted from Tuesday to Friday on RÚV’s radio program Víðsjá.