Chasing Ghosts

icelandic musician laufey

RUMOURS “Not a dry eye in sight, I tell ya,” Ísleifur Þórhallsson proclaims, standing near the ticket desk inside the Harpa Music and Conference Hall in Reykjavík. “Shoulda seen it!” He’s referring to the poignancy of last night’s Laufey concert, the first of three at Harpa. The final concert – added this January due to high […]

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Fiddling with Perfection

Hans Jóhannsson icelandic luthier

It was half past four on a Sunday afternoon inside the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre in Reykjavík.Three-hundred-and-sixty chairs, nearly all of them occupied, had been arranged in meticulous fashion within the Norðurljós auditorium. Twenty-five musicians, tickling four different kinds of stringed instruments, were performing Richard Strauss’ Metamorphoses on stage. And two people, who […]

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Icelandic Musicians Perform for Palestine

concert for Palestine

Páll Óskar, JFDR, Úlfur Úlfur, and Cyber will be performing at a solidarity and fundraising concert for Palestine in Reykjavík’s Gamla Bíó tonight, November 16. The concert is organised by the Association Iceland-Palestine and hosted by actress Þuríður Blær. All proceeds go to relief efforts in Gaza.

A press release from the association states that 11,320 people, including 4,650 children, have been killed in the Israeli Army’s air raids since the Hamas terrorist attack on Israeli civilians on October 7. It goes on to describe the situation created by Israel’s block of transport of water, food, fuel, and medicine as well as the bombing of hospitals, schools, and refugee camps. “It has never been more important to show solidarity with the Palestinian nation than it is right now. We are really proud and thankful for all of the great people who have contributed to holding this awesome concert,” the notice reads.

Protests for Palestine

The Association goes on to encourage the international community and the Icelandic government to respond to the situation in Gaza by cutting diplomatic ties with Israel and boycotting Israeli products, as well as calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Locals in Iceland have been holding regular protests condemning Israel’s attacks on Gaza as well as the Icelandic government’s response to the crisis. Iceland abstained from voting on a ceasefire in Gaza at an emergency meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in October. The Icelandic Parliament has since unanimously passed a resolution condemning violence against civilians and calling for adherence to international laws.

Fundraising dinner

Before the event, Palestinians living in Iceland are inviting the public to a fundraising dinner in solidarity and support of the people of Gaza. The Association Iceland-Palestine encourages those who are unable to come to the concert but want to support the cause to donate to their humanitarian relief efforts by making a transfer to the following account number: 542-26-6990, Kennitala: 520188-1349 (explanation “tonleikar”).

Damon Albarn Live in Reykjavík Tonight – Nice Way to Repay “the Generous Gift” of Citizenship

Musician Damon Albarn will be performing at the Harpa Music and Conference Hall in Reykjavík tonight. In an interview published on RÚV this morning, Albarn observed that the concert – his first in Iceland in 25 years – was a nice way to pay back “the beautiful compliment” of having been granted Icelandic citizenship.

“Better come see me now.”

Blur-frontman and Gorillaz founder Damon Albarn will be performing at the Harpa Music and Conference Hall tonight. The concert marks the last stop on the musician’s The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows tour.

It’s been over two decades since Albarn last performed in Iceland, or since stepping on stage with Blur in 1996. Speaking to radio host Ólafur Páll Gunnarsson on Rás 2 this morning, Albarn stated: “It’s my first gig in 25 years in Iceland. And on this trajectory, it could take another 25 years. I’ll be in my late seventies then – so you better come and see me now.”

The musician subsequently admitted that the concert seemed long overdue, especially considering his new legal status in Iceland. “Considering that I’m an Icelandic national, as well … it’s a chance for me to, sort of, you know, pay back that beautiful compliment and generous gift that I’ve been given.”

Albarn was granted citizenship last year.

Inspired by Albarn’s long-time love for Iceland

At tonight’s concert, Albarn will be performing the album The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows in its entirety. As noted on Harpa’s website, Albarn has found musical inspiration in Iceland’s nature and landscapes since first coming to the country nearly three decades ago.

“This new piece – inspired by Albarn’s long-time love for Iceland – will see the musician perform this very personal piece with an ensemble in what will be his first concert in Iceland in 25 years. The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows was written and composed entirely in Iceland. The title is taken from a John Clare poem entitled Love and Memory.”

Björk’s Harpa Concert Series Supports Women’s Shelter

Björk Guðmundsdóttir musician

Guests filled Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík last night for the first evening of musician Björk Guðmundsdóttir’s four-concert series in support of Kvennaathvarfið women’s shelter. The concerts were postponed seven times due to COVID restrictions and are Björk’s first performances in Iceland in three years.

Twenty per cent of the profits from the concert series will go to Kvennaathvarfið women’s shelter in Reykjavík, specifically to support children – the shelter houses on average 11 kids at any given time, RÚV reports. The concerts are acoustic (performed without electronics and beats) and feature the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Hamrahlíð Choir, and other local musicians.

Though tickets to the concerts are sold out, those interested can follow along virtually. In Iceland, the concerts are broadcast live on RÚV’s Channel 2 as well as on via radio on Rás 1. Those located abroad can also purchase access to the live stream. The remaining concerts will be held on October 24 and 31 and November 15.

South Iceland Establishes Symphony Orchestra

A new symphony orchestra has been established in South Iceland, the region’s first. The orchestra’s first public performances were for primary school students in Þorlákshöfn, Hveragerði, and Reykholt, as Vísir reports. The program opened with the James Bond theme song, which had children bouncing in their seats.

The orchestra contains 14 instrumentalists, all of whom live in the region. Its conductor Guðmundur Óli Gunnarsson lives in Selfoss and has plenty of relevant experience when it comes to building up a new orchestra: Guðmundur worked with SinfoniaNord, North Iceland’s symphony orchestra, from its founding for 23 years. Guðmundur hopes to build up regular concerts with the South Iceland Orchestra in the region.

Symphonic ensembles seem to be blossoming outside the capital area in recent years. A symphony orchestra was established in East Iceland just under two years ago, while Guðmundur’s former employer SinfoniaNord is now sought-after as a film orchestra, recording soundtrack music for Hollywood films remotely.

Fifty Years Since Led Zeppelin Played in Iceland

“A massive queue formed when tickets for the Led Zeppelin concert were sold, unlike anything that had been seen since overshoes were sold in Reykjavík for ration coupons during the war,” stated an Icelandic reporter in 1970 during the lead up to the band’s concert. Today marks exactly 50 years since the band’s sold-out show at Laugardalshöll in Reykjavík.

Around 5,000 people attended the concert on June 22, 1970, which was part of the programming of Reykjavík Art Festival. The band’s trip to Iceland is said to be the inspiration for Immigrant Song, which begins with the lines: “We come from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun, where the hot springs flow.”

Reykjavík Art Festival has uploaded some original video footage of Led Zeppelin’s visit to Iceland.

Reykjavíkurdætur Perform at Empty Swimming Pool

The hip hop ensemble Reykjavíkurdætur (Daughters of Reykjavík) performed a live set at the currently closed Sundhöll public swimming pool in downtown Reykjavík on Friday.

The half-hour set was put on as part of Vísir’s ‘Samkoma’ (or ‘Gathering’) series, which has also featured performances by musical acts Geirfuglanir, Krummi Björgvinsson, Bríet, and Sturla Atlas.

Seven members of Reykjavíkurdætur took part in the concert and the group performed eight songs, including a few newer tracks.

The set can be viewed on Vísir’s website, here.

 

Ed Sheeran Arrives in Iceland

British pop star Ed Sheeran arrived in Iceland on Thursday ahead of two concerts he’ll hold at Laugardalsvöllur in Reykjavík this weekend, RÚV reports. The concerts are expected to draw 50,000 attendees.

Sheeran performed in Hungary on Wednesday and then flew straight to Iceland – possibly, it’s speculated, to give himself some time to do a little sightseeing. (This will be the musician’s first time putting on concerts in Iceland, but it isn’t his first time visiting. His last visit wasn’t all fun and games, though: as he told talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, he burned his foot in a hot spring while visiting the country for his 25th birthday.)

Some 200 staff are now in the process of setting up the stage and preparing for Sheeran’s weekend shows. The musician actually brought his own stage, weighing 1,500 tonnes, with him, as well as 55 shipping containers with other equipment.

Duran Duran Returns to Iceland

Duran Duran will play a concert in Iceland in late June, RÚV reports. This will be the iconic band’s second time visiting Iceland—they last visited the country fourteen years ago, in 2005.

Known for such classic pop songs as “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Rio,” “Notorious,” and “A View to a Kill,” Duran Duran’s tenure has spanned four decades, during which time they’ve sold over 100 million records, won two Grammys, two Brit awards, and been awarded seven Lifetime Achievement Awards.

“If the show Duran Duran played in Iceland in 2005 is anything to go by, our show on June the 25th at Laugardalshöll is set to be a magnificent celebration – a blowout!” singer Simon Le Bon was quoted as saying in the press release on the band’s website. “I look forward to staying up all night like I did last time.”

The concert will be held at Laugardalshöll on June 25. Tickets will be sold on Tix.is starting at 10 am on April 24.