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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.

Hi everyone

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…





Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lissa July 28, 2010, 5:52 pm

    Are you going to do one on winter classical music festivals, Hildigunnar? It is a lot cheaper to come in the winter, after all.

  • Joerg July 28, 2010, 5:53 pm

    So far, I have made several attempts to get tickets for a concert in the Hallgrímskirkja cathedral but it either was already booked up or I couldn’t make it fit into my schedule. I would particularly like to attend an organ concert. Sometimes I happen to be in the church, when somebody is playing. The cathedral seems to have good acoustics – and, of course, it’s a Klais organ from Germany.

    Btw., the long time of refurbishment of the Hallgrímskirkja during the last two years doesn’t quite show in the quality of the outside paintwork. It appears, as if somebody has poured out a bucket of white paint on the top level of the tower, its traces running all the way down the front side.

  • hildigunnur July 28, 2010, 6:14 pm

    Lissa, I can of course do that, if people want 🙂

    Joerg, the concerts on this festival are numerous and I’m quite sure none of them are fully booked, after all the church is quite big. I’ve been on 3 of the organ festival concerts, 2 lunchtime and one in the afternoon, that one was fairly full but in the lunch concerts they normally have quite a lot of vacant seats. The Klais is a great instrument, I love to sit and listen to it, be it a pianissimo passage or a full-stops blast.

  • hildigunnur July 28, 2010, 6:18 pm

    gaah, forgot to link to the Skálholt one! Here you go – main site in Icelandic but there’s an English tab in the top line – not really linkable but you can pick every weekend’s program from it.

  • Joerg July 28, 2010, 7:13 pm

    Ok, it was actually a Christmas concert, which was fully booked and an organ summer concert, which I missed, because I returned late from an excursion. But I’ll never give up hope. 🙂

  • Luna_Sea July 28, 2010, 7:56 pm

    Check your links, several don’t work.

  • sylvia hikins July 28, 2010, 9:35 pm

    hildigunnur- I am staying in Reykjavik from 17th Nov to 19th Dec and I really want to experience all kinds of music. How can I find out what is going on and will I need to try and book tickets before I arrive? Great to read your blog.
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • Joerg July 28, 2010, 10:21 pm

    Oh, and I like to read your blog, too. Australia is on my agenda in september. I suppose, I’ll be bankrupt afterwards.

  • hildigunnur July 28, 2010, 10:42 pm

    Joerg, stands to reason then – but tons of the good stuff going on now. Might want to check out Steingrímur Þórhallsson’s concerts this weekend, he’s a pretty good player. Thanx, might revive my English blog :þ

    Luna_Sea hmm, I don’t actually have access to the blog but it might have something to do with me writing out the links in the Word document I sent to Alda. Lemme check with her, but Googling the festivals ought to give results too 🙂

    Sylvia, leave a comment on my blog a bit before coming here, I’m certain I’ll be able to find some interesting concerts.

  • kevin oconnor,waterford,ireland July 29, 2010, 2:56 am

    Welcome hildigunnur , Oh dear we have worn poor Alda out with our silly stupid comments 🙂

  • hildigunnur July 29, 2010, 3:10 pm

    kevin, thanx 😀

  • sylvia hikins July 29, 2010, 8:46 pm

    hildigunnur-thanks. I will do that.
    sylvia from viking wirral