In the spring we prepared for this summer’s big event, traveling to Iceland for choir-camp! Parts of our Icelandic program entitled “There I want to give you my love” were first performed at home in the church at an early summer concert. The Sunday after midsummer we traveled to Reykjavik for five fantastic weeks with concerts, rewarding meetings with hospitable and pleasant Icelanders, outstanding nature experiences and good food.
Our choir represented Sweden and the Swedish male choir tradition at a Nordic-Baltic male choir festival in Reykjavik where, in addition to Sweden, Finland, Norway, Estonia, Sweden, Iceland and Switzerland were represented.
A trip with extra everything
We took the opportunity to perform the newly written final pieces from the choir’s Composition Award to launch female composers for male choirs in an international context.
The Hamrahlid Choir in Reykjavik is one of Iceland’s foremost choirs and we made several appearances with them. We also got to work with the composer Thorkell Sigurbjörnsson.
A trip to Iceland will always automatically mean spontaneous singing, in Iceland people sing happily and often. It was the opportunity for a little singing everywhere, including on the Viking ship Harald Hårfagre at the famous waterfall Gullfoss.
Before a big concert in Harpan, we met the president at a reception at his home. And at Saturday’s closing concert, in addition to the president, the Minister of Culture, the Minister of Tourism and Energy and the Mayor of Reykjavik were also present.
We ended our trip to Iceland with a concert in mammoth format. A thousand choristers took the stage in the Harpa Concert Hall!
Afterwards we were served a huge cake buffet.
He built it and crushed finances
Harpa is worth its own article, I have never experienced a similar creation for art and music. Although the start was a bit dramatic, Harpan was built during the worst economic crisis ever in Iceland.
Inviting Björgólfur Guðmundsson, formerly a major shareholder in the collapsed Landsbanki, to the opening night in Harpa was perhaps not the smartest decision they made. It resulted in protests outside the building. The financier was admittedly one of the leading initiators of the project, but when he made the largest personal bankruptcy in Iceland’s history in connection with the crisis, the bill for the house and a lot of other things eventually landed with the taxpayers.
Harpa is one of the reasons for the state’s and Reykjavik’s miserable finances. The question is whether the glass house will ever get rid of the stamp of crisis. And for those who want to be symbolic, not even the glass wall had time to come into place before it was discovered that it was incorrectly designed and risked cracking. tear it or leave it standing.
Harpa Concert Hall was designed to be an icon. Created by Henning Larsen and Batteríið Architects, the project was made in collaboration with Olafur Eliasson and his studio. Inspired by the northern lights and dramatic Icelandic scenery, the project is sited on the border between land and sea. A sculpture in its own right, the landmark project reflects the harbor and the life of the city.
The Concert Hall and Conference Center is situated with a clear view of the sea and the mountains surrounding Reykjavik. The building features a foyer area in the front, with four halls in the middle and a backstage area with offices, administration, rehearsal hall and changing room in the back of the building.
The three large halls are placed next to each other with public access on the south side and backstage access from the north. The fourth floor is a multifunctional hall with room for more intimate shows and banquets. The design was made to form a mountain-like massif similar to basalt rock on the coast.
The project is the home of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and the Icelandic Opera, with the largest hall accommodating up to 1,800 seated patrons. Smaller meeting rooms are located throughout the building and an exhibition area is nearby.
The team worked with US consulting firm Artec Consultants Inc. for the acoustics, sound isolation and design of the theater and sound equipment in all the venues. All together, the building was designed to set the stage for a diverse range of events – from music school concerts and picnic lunches to international gala performances and banquets.
Apart from the obvious reasons to visit Harpa there are others too. This is actually a place where you can find a cosy spot to sit down and work or to simply read a book. I was surprised to realise that. Therefore it became my favorite place during my stay in Reykjavik. I could spend hours just sitting down there, reading or playing games on Pokerstars or Wordfeud. Each is fun in different ways. I often played when I was waiting for a concert to start.