Welcome!

Welcome to Reykjavík Midsummer Music.

For the fifth year in a row, exceptional musicians from all over the world are coming together in Reykjavík's beautiful concert hall, Harpa, to spend a few bright, Icelandic summer evenings playing great music at the edge of their seats.

This year is all about the theme 'Wanderer'. In 7 concerts, the programme takes us wandering through diverse musical landscapes, from the reassuringly familiar to the mysterious, unknown and thrilling – even into outer space.

Come join us June 16-19! We look forward to the good times.

Víkingur Ólafsson
Artistic Director

16 June

Interstellar Wanderer

20:00 Norðurljós Recital Hall - Harpa

Framed by the starry sparkles of Maurice Ravel’s Introduction et Allegro and the misty depths of his Piano Trio, the programme of the opening concert of Reykjavík Midsummer Music 2016 is a little voyage into space. Toru Takemitsu’s work Orion takes us on a serene interstellar exploration, while Kaja Saariaho’s Lichtbogen – an atmospheric work in every sense of the word – brings us the Northern Lights, distilled into sound. Finally, we boldly go where no man has gone before in a World Premiere of Skúli Sverrisson’s new work Miranda, inspired by weightlessness.

Programme

Maurice Ravel: Introduction et Allegro
Toru Takemitsu:  Orion
Kaija Saariaho: Lichtbogen
Skúli Sverrisson: Nýtt verk (2016)
Maurice Ravel: Piano Trio

Artists

Arngunnur Árnadóttir, Bjarni Frímann Bjarnason, Bryndís Halla Gylfadóttir, Jennifer Stumm, Katie Buckley, Matthew Barley, Melkorka Ólafsdóttir, Steef Van Oosterhout, Skúli Sverrisson, Hávarður Tryggvason, Sigrún Eðvaldsdóttir, Tai Murray, Viktoria Mullova, Víkingur Ólafsson

“Absolutely unmissable” — Reykjavík Grapevine

16 June

‘Once there was a way’

23:00 Mengi - off venue

In this late-night concert in Mengi, we wander between East and West, between the familiar and the exotic, between dreams and wakefulness. Largely self-taught in music, the great Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu considered himself a disciple of the French masters, particularly Claude Debussy and Olivier Messiaen. Debussy’s influence is evident in the first work on the programme, Takemitsu’s calm and brilliant And then I knew t’was wind, in which he uses the instrumentation of Debussy’s beautiful Sonata no. 2 for flute, viola and harp – the last work on the programme. The title of Takemitsu’s piece is a line from a poem by Emily Dickinson. As explained by the composer, its central metaphor is the way in which unconscious thoughts and dreams blow, like the wind, invisible, through human consciousness. Sleep and dreams also feature in Takemitsu’s transcription of the Beatles song Golden Slumbers – which, at least in this version, seems a little like Lennon & McCartney’ answer to the serene Wanderer’s Nightsong of Schubert and Goethe. Messiaen’s Abîme des Oiseaux is best described in the composer’s own words: “The abyss is Time, with its sadnesses and tediums. The birds are the opposite of Time; they are our desire for light, for stars, for rainbows, and for jubilant outpourings of song!”

Programme

Toru Takemitsu: And then I knew t’was Wind
Lennon/McCartney/ Takemitsu: Golden Slumbers
Olivier Messiaen: Abîme des oiseaux
Claude Debussy: Sonata for flute, viola and harp

Artists

Arngunnur Árnadóttir, Jennifer Stumm, Katie Buckley, Melkorka Ólafsdóttir, Víkingur Ólafsson

“One of the musical highlights of the year” — Fréttatíminn

17 June

Songs of a Wayfarer

20:00 Eldborg Auditorium - Harpa

In the final concert of Reykjavík Midsummer Music 2016, we indulge in our longing for faraway lands by escaping into the world of truly great music. We start with two songs by Franz Schubert. The first is characterised by bittersweet Wanderlust while the second is serenely calm, set to a poem by Johann Wolfgang Goethe that many consider the best ever written in the German Language. Ludwig van Beethoven’s song cycle An die ferne Geliebte brings us a young man’s passionate longing for his distant loved one, experienced through the beauty of nature. We then set out to explore a brand new work, Áskell Másson’s glittering piano sonata, followed by Maurice Ravel’s wildly rhapsodic Tzigane, a work firmly rooted in Hungarian Gypsy folklore and music. Finally, Antonín Dvorák’s riveting Piano Quintet combines vibrant folk-musical flair with a rare clarity of style and form. With its bold statements of fiery passion and quiet thoughts of wistful yearning, the work is a fitting conclusion to the festival.

Programme

Franz Schubert: Piano Trio No 2
Robert Schumann: In der Fremde
Robert Schumann: Ich wandelte unter den Bäumen
Hugo Wolf: Fussreise
Hugo Wolf: Feuerreiter
Gustav Mahler: Lieder einer fahrenden Gesellen (arr. Schoenberg)

Artists

Arngunnur Árnadóttir, Bjarni Frímann Bjarnason, Bryndís Halla Gylfadóttir, Jennifer Stumm, Katie Buckley, Kristinn Sigmundsson, Matthew Barley, Melkorka Ólafsdóttir, Pétur Grétarsson, Ursula Oppens, Hávarður Tryggvason, Sigrún Eðvaldsdóttir, Tai Murray, Viktoria Mullova, Víkingur Ólafsson

“Emotionally and intellectually stimulating” — Concerti Magazine

18 June

The Wanderer Fantasy

20:00 Norðurljós Recital Hall - Harpa

In this concert, the mind roams free in a fantastical version of the Wanderer theme (although the famous Wanderer-fantasy of Franz Schubert is conspicuous by its absence). Charles Ives guides us outside the confines of equal temperament in his 3 Quarter Tone Pieces, which are played on two pianos in different tunings. We then follow the imaginative sculptor Alexander Calder out of his studio and into nature, in a charming short film by Herbert Matter, accompanied by John Cage’s music for prepared piano. The prepared piano was an invention of Cage’s, allowing the pianist to explore a completely new dimension of sound hidden inside the instrument. A breath of fresh air is offered by Béla Bartók’s Out of Doors. Bartók famously collected folk songs all over the Hungarian countryside, but he also collected the sounds of nature – sounds that can be heard in this wonderful work for solo piano. Finally, we succumb to the temptations of a summer evening in the work of George Crumb, Music for a Summer Evening, from his series Makrokosmos. Crumb’s admiration for the music of Bartók is present not only in the series title, which alludes to Bartók’s much-loved collection Mikrokosmos, but in the way it presents enchanting environmental sensations.

Programme

Charles Ives: 3 Quarter Tone Pieces
John Cage: Works of Calder
Bela Bartok: Out of Doors
George Crumb: Makrokosmos III: Music for a Summer Evening

Artists

Anna Guðný Guðmundsdóttir, Bjarni Frímann Bjarnason, Jerome Lowenthal, Pétur Grétarsson, Steef van Oosterhout, Ursula Oppens,

“Elevated beauty, not of this world” — Fréttablaðið

18 June

‘… de la Terre’

23:00 Mengi - off venue

We return to the intimate setting of Mengi for a late night programme of various earthly delights, beginning with Kaija Saariaho’s ‘…de la Terre’ for violin and electronics, which includes lush and mysterious natural sounds. Out of the three composers that made up the Second Viennese School, Alban Berg’s natural disposition was by far the most lyrical, his ties with the late romantic style the hardest to break. In his Vier Stücke op. 5, however, he ventured fully into the realm of the 12-tone music championed by his somewhat strict teacher Arnold Schoenberg. The result is a series of articulate, almost atomic miniatures. The remaining works on the programme focus on a different kind of exploration. The works of Schumann, Sollima and Berio all include elements of folk music, and thus represent the travels of adventurous composers in search of new sounds.

Programme

Kaija Saariaho: “…de la Terre”
Alban Berg: Vier Stücke Op. 5
Robert Schumann: 5 Stücke im Volkston
Giovanni Sollima: Lamentatio
Luciano Berio: Naturale

Artists

Arngunnur Árnadóttir, Jennifer Stumm, Jerome Lowenthal, Matthew Barley, Pétur Grétarsson, Sigrún Eðvaldsdóttir, Ursula Oppens,

“World-class chamber music” — Icelandic National Radio

19 June

Jón Nordal – From Dream to Dream

14:00 Norðurljós Recital Hall - Harpa

In this concert, we celebrate the 90th birthday of one of Iceland’s best-loved composers, Jón Nordal. A pioneer of contemporary music in his home country and a mentor to generations of Icelandic musicians, Nordal studied in Zürich, Paris, Rome and Darmstadt, where he combined some of the most radical musical ideas of the century with his own richly individual musical idiom. His music is simultaneously modern and in touch with tradition, admired by fellow composers and the general public alike. The programme includes some of Nordal’s most beautiful chamber works from all stages of his long and continuing musical journey.

Programme

Systurnar í Garðshorni (1944)  

Violin Sonata

Ristur (1985)

Pictures on a Panel Wall (1992)

From Dream to Dream (1996)

A Breath on a sleeping String (1998) 

Hvert örstutt spor

Artists

Arngunnur Árnadóttir, Bjarni Frímann Bjarnason, Bryndís Halla Gylfadóttir, Jennifer Stumm, Kristinn Sigmundsson, Matthew Barley, Sigrún Eðvaldsdóttir, Tai Murray, Víkingur Ólafsson

 

19 June

Grand Finale 2016: Der Wanderer

20:00 Norðurljós Recital Hall - Harpa

In the final concert of Reykjavík Midsummer Music 2016, we indulge in our longing for faraway lands by escaping into the world of truly great music. We start with two songs by Franz Schubert. The first is characterised by bittersweet Wanderlust while the second is serenely calm, set to a poem by Johann Wolfgang Goethe that many consider the best ever written in the German Language. Ludwig van Beethoven’s song cycle An die ferne Geliebte brings us a young man’s passionate longing for his distant loved one, experienced through the beauty of nature. We then set out to explore a brand new work, Áskell Másson’s glittering piano sonata, followed by Maurice Ravel’s wildly rhapsodic Tzigane, a work firmly rooted in Hungarian Gypsy folklore and music. Finally, Antonín Dvorák’s riveting Piano Quintet combines vibrant folk-musical flair with a rare clarity of style and form. With its bold statements of fiery passion and quiet thoughts of wistful yearning, the work is a fitting conclusion to the festival.

Programme

Franz Schubert: Der Wanderer
L.v. Beethoven:  An die ferne Geliebte
Áskell Másson: Piano Sonata – world premiere
Maurice Ravel: Tzigane
Antonin Dvořák: Piano Quintet

Artists

Jerome Lowenthal, Bryndís Halla Gylfadóttir, Jennifer Stumm, Ursula Oppens, Kristinn Sigmundsson, Sigrún Eðvaldsdóttir, Tai Murray, Víkingur Ólafsson

 
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About the festival

Reykjavík Midsummer Music is an award-winning chamber music festival founded by pianist Víkingur Ólafsson in 2012. It takes place in Reykjavík’s magnificent concert hall, Harpa, every year around summer solstice – this year’s dates are 16 to 19 June. Since the festival’s inception, its goal has been to bring some of the best musicians of the world together in Reykjavík to play great music from all times under the arctic midnight sun. So far, it has been quite an adventure.

Reykjavík Midsummer Music is a festival for the curious ear. Every year, the programme explores a particular theme that binds together different types of music and musicians, resulting in a kind of creative synthesis. The programming is based on the notion that all the music we play and listen to today is, in a sense, contemporary music, regardless of whether it was composed in the 17th century or the 21st. When works from different times and places are brought together in the right way, each concert becomes a story which has never been told before. And that is exactly how we like it.

 

Our heartfelt thanks to our generous and musical sponsors: