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 Orion takes us on a serene interstellar exploration, while Kaja Saariaho’s Lichtbogen 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 inspired by space.

Programme

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

Artists

Arngunnur Árnadóttir, Bryndís Halla Gylfadóttir, Jennifer Stumm, Katie Buckley, Matthew Barley, Melkorka Ólafsdóttir, Pétur Grétarsson, Skúli Sverrisson, Sigrún Eðvaldsdóttir, Tai Murray, Viktoria Mullova, Víkingur Ólafsson

“Absolutely unmissable” — Reykjavík Grapevine

16 June

‘Once there was a way’

23:00 Mengi - off venue

Largely self-taught in music, the great Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu considered himself a disciple of the French masters, particularly Debussy and Messiaen. All three can be heard in this late night programme in Mengi, (a short and lovely walk from Harpa), in which we wander between East and West, between the exotic and the familiar, between dreams and wakefulness. The name of the concert is borrowed from the lyrics of the Beatles’ own Wanderer’s Nightsong: Golden Slumbers – here presented in Takemitsu’s transcription for solo piano.

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 romantic period, taking a walk stopped being a mere means of transportation and became an artistic, even mystical act: An appreciation of nature, an encounter with the sublime. Each work in this programme bears testament to this: Schubert’s dramatic, yet elegantly restrained E-flat major trio (which many associate with the drifting journeys of Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon), Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer) in the excellent transcription of Arnold Schoenberg, and a careful selection of Lieder on the joys and sorrows of the wanderer. The concert is held in Harpa’s fittingly magnificent Eldborg Hall – not to be missed.

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, Bryndís Halla Gylfadóttir, Jennifer Stumm, Katie Buckley, Kristinn Sigmundsson, Matthew Barley, Melkorka Ólafsdóttir, Pétur Grétarsson, 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, Charles Ives guides us outside the confines of equal temperament in his 3 Quarter Tone Pieces. We then follow the sculptor 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. A breath of fresh air is offered by Béla Bartók’s Out of Doors – a refreshing walk around the Hungarian countryside – before we succumb to the temptations of a Summer Evening in the company of George Crumb.

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

Jerome Lowenthal, Pétur Grétarsson, Steef van Oosterhout, Ursula Oppens, Víkingur Ólafsson

“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. 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. The composition of Berg’s Vier Stücke, however, coincided a fateful trip to meet his strict teacher, Arnold Schoenberg.

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 the most radical musical ideas of the century with his own richly individual musical idiom. The programme includes some of Nordal’s most beautiful songs and chamber works, from all stages of his long musical journey which still continues.

 

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, 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 with some truly great music, starting with the songs of Schubert and Beethoven. We then set out to explore a brand new work, Áskell Másson’s glittering piano sonata, followed by Ravel’s wildly rhapsodic Tzigane, a work firmly rooted in Hungarian Gypsy folklore and music. Finally, Dvořák’s Piano Quintet combines vibrant folk-musical flair with a rare clarity of style and form. The result fitting finale to the festival – with its bold statements of fiery passion and quiet thoughts of wistful yearning.

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

Bryndís Halla Gylfadóttir, Jennifer Stumm, 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: