Postcard from Reykjavik
Nobody has the adjectives to describe Iceland's jaw-dropping scenery, which might be one reason this lump of glacial rock in the north Atlantic relies so heavily on music.Read more…
Iceland has to be seen – and heard – to be believed. It is littered with looming volcanoes, turquoise geothermal lakes and burbling mud pools, while glaciers older than time cut through its severe black rock to form imposing canyons. If this is nature to make you feel small and overwhelmed, the same could be said of so much music to have hailed from here – from the dark and terrifying creations of Iceland’s 'first' composer Jón Leifs to the heaving landscapes of its astonishingly talented new-kid-on-the-block, Anna Thorvaldsdóttir.
Reykjavik has a musical ecosystem like none other, a byproduct of constant musical cross-fertilization in a tiny city that has the musical infrastructure of a European capital (opera company and symphony orchestra included). It's not uncommon to spot an Iceland Symphony Orchestra musician jogging under the midnight sun from the Harpa concert hall to play a gig in an underground club. As a result, Reykjavik has one of the most unusual, liberated and fascinating new music scenes of any city in the world.
Our playlist showcases the best recorded music to have come from a country that is still, in musical terms, young. But we also eavesdrop on Iceland's very own professional symphony orchestra, which has come of age since the opening of the Harpa concert hall in 2011 and scored a coup in 2015 when it announced that its next principal conductor would be the esteemed Frenchman, Yan Pascal Tortelier. He is already making his presence felt.