Friday, June 10, 2011

Choir Trip to Snæfellsness Part I

My choir for Neskirkja took a little weekend trip to enjoy our company as a group and sing in various places around the Snæfellsness peninsula. It was a great combination of musical fun and sight-seeing, not exactly a 'tour' but not just a vacation, either.
We stayed at the lovely Hotel Stykkishólmur, which is quite the step up from the hostels I've stayed in throughout Iceland. But then I remembered that I'm one of the youngest people in the choir, and everyone else enjoys traveling quite comfortably. This place even had towels and shampoo, English-language stations on the TV, and a giant breakfast spread. Lap of luxury!

Our big 'performance' for the trip was singing a concert of songs in the church in Grundafjördur, town population of just a couple hundred. Seemed like 10 percent of the town was there, but that only amounted to about 20 people in the audience, but still, it was a good concert. It was a nice semi-casual performance and I think the choir sounded about as good as they ever have, maybe there was less stress for these songs than for our bigger works like the Fauré Requiem or Handel 'Messiah'. The highlight of the concert for me was that the choir performed a work that I wrote for them, music set to the poem 'Thytur í Vindi' by Mattías Johannesen. Along with soloists for songs in the concert, the choir gave me a toast afterward, and gave me a white rose (perhaps intentional and very thoughtful, seeing how the poem I set mentions 'and the white roses that bloomed in my soul', and I got a nice blurb in the programme as well. Maybe the piece will have life in Iceland after I'm gone!

We made an emergency stop on the bus, on the way back to the hotel. Someone said, 'we HAVE to sing here, it's so beautiful!' and the bus driver slammed on the brakes. We hopped out of the bus as the sun was low in the sky (though here it's almost 11pm) and sang a couple songs for each other, posing for pictures on the beautiful harbor.

The evening following the concert was fairly quiet for Icelandic weekend standards, but a few hotel-room parties were hosted, and more singing erupted. I was a bit tired, and thought about going to bed, but then I heard my song being sung from down the hall in the hotel room. I walked slowly and quietly and just listened from the hallway. I was very moved- how great of an experience to hear your music being sung by people who appreciate it, without my own instigation. Quite the honor.

Tomorrow on the trip we're headed around for some Snæfellsness sight-seeing local-style. I was really curious to see how Icelanders would sight-see. I'm just the foreigner, so basically everything is new to me (I'd been in Stykkishólmur once before, in September, but just for one night basically to see the Library of Water.) We'll soon find out how much more there is to see!

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