The first delightful guest to post on this site is Hildigunnur, who has been reading and commenting here for almost as long as I can remember — and who many of you will surely recognize [as it were]. Hildigunnur writes the blog Computernerd Composer, whose title should give you a pretty good idea of her main interests [or, well, two of them, at least]. She knows everything there is to know about the Icelandic music scene, and I’m delighted she’s agreed to contribute.
Alda asked me to be one of her guest pens – she’s going on a well earned holiday. My own page (Icelandic one that is – English one quite a bit less) usually attracted about 200-400 people per day back in my blogger heyday so it’s brill to be writing to a bigger audience.
So of course I’ll be using the opportunity to advertise my field… (by kind permission just so that you know ;))
I live and breathe in Iceland’s classical music scene, am a composer, singer and music teacher, but I’d like to tell you about the numerous music festivals that abound in Iceland in the summertime. Actually there aren’t all that many classical concerts going on in Reykjavík during the summer; in the winter you could use half your waking hours going to the various concerts, but in the summertime most of the action is going on in the countryside.
First, the oldest and biggest festival: the Skálholt Church Summer Festival. Skálholt Church is in a historic site, is a part of some of the Golden Circle tours and is an amazing church with one out of 2 best acoustics in the country, especially for choral music. The festival has been going strong for 35 years and is getting bigger every year in spite of the Kreppa – concerts every Thursday evening and 3 concerts during the weekend – 6 weeks every summer. Contemporary classical and original-instruments Baroque and Renaissance music have long been the festival’s high points but you can find all sorts of other interesting things too. Very high standard – more info here. Just over an hour’s drive east from Reykjavík. Free entrance (the only festival afaik) but donations welcomed.
Then there’s Reykholtshátíð, going on as I write – also a historical place: Reykholt Festival is an international music festival held in historic Reykholt, the birth place of Snorri Sturluson in Borgarfjördur, the last week of July every year. Its repertoire mainly consists of classical music featuring both Icelandic musicians and well known foreign artists. Reykholt festival has earned a reputation as being one of the most interesting cultural events in Iceland. Here’s a link to that one. An hour and a half’s drive north of Reykjavík.
A bit further out we have Chamber Concerts in Kirkjubæjarklaustur, see here. Unfortunately I can’t seem to find an English version but the program’s there and the dates. Three hours to the east of Reykjavík.
Other festivals – finished for this year are e.g. Við djúpið in Ísafjörður and Bjartar nætur in Hveragerði (no website that I could find). I’m sure I’m forgetting something.
But Reykjavík of course has festivals and concerts too, the International Organ Summer – that one’s smack in the centre of Reykjavík in Hallgrímskirkja church. Not an old festival but a lot of amazing concerts. There are the Summer Concerts in Sigurjón Ólafsson Museum, by the sea, and for lovers of song the CCCR.
Aaaand – of course there’s Culture Night. Maybe more on that later…