Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Music Wednesdays at Listasafn Íslands

Today ended my four mini-concert stint at Listasafn Íslands, and I must say I have never been so pleasantly surprised at the results of a small event. Well, even these small, intimate concerts had a fair amount of prep work, as I wanted to have special guests for most of the concerts.

Two of the concerts featured Magnús Trygvason Elíassen on drums. He's amazing, I hope to work together again. We did two pieces together, one almost freely improvised, and one more traditional pop song. Here is the best recording of 'Dust', the free improv piece, that we got from the live concerts.

Two of the concerts also featured Luciano Becerra, a singer and musician from Argentina, who lives in Iceland. He sings in my choir and has a beautiful clear voice.

This last concert was packed with special guests; Hörður Torfason sang a song he crafted many years ago, and I rearranged his guitar part for piano, in my own particular style. He sang and his crisp tenor rang through the museum. There is a clarity in his singing that so effortlessly reveals texts. No wonder he has released 22 albums of his songs.

I also performed a workshop of a piece that Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir and I are working on for an outdoor spring performance. She spoke Icelandic texts while I played and sang. The work is full of color imagery and we tried to dress colorfully appropriately.

One of the most moving performances was by Karítur Íslands, a young girls' choir. Several of the girls sang a song that I wrote when I first moved to Iceland. The poem was written by a 12-year old girl, and is simple but moving. The girl is now around 30, and she didn't think she's be able to come to the concert, but she surprised me by being there! I hope she didn't freak out when I gave her a hug, I wasn't prepared. The performance was also hauntingly magical. Here is the recording of the rehearsal, the piano is a little loud but that's what I get for only bringing one stereo mic.

One of the reasons I wanted to take time and live in Iceland was that I thought my music would be better appreciated here. I'm certainly inspired by being here, and I have lots of time to think and listen to music here. Perhaps it's in my particular musical styles, or that I pick certain themes or demeanor about working, that I hoped my works would resonate with Icelanders, on par or more than with American audiences. I think this may indeed be the case. I have gotten a lot of positive feedback here from relatively larger audiences than I've had in the States, and for works that most people would consider 'classical' or 'experimental'. It's great to see everyday people show up to concerts to which they don't even know what to expect. This is a great sign; it gives me a little extra boost that I'm making good decisions, and continue to be happy here.

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