From Iceland — Let There Be Art!

Let There Be Art!

Published May 12, 2010

Reykjavík Arts Festival

Let There Be Art!
Rex Beckett

Reykjavík Arts Festival

Although it may at times seem as though this city is a constant carnival
of arts and entertainment, Reykjavík still finds the time to specially
designate a full month of the year to creative endeavours. Since 1970,
the Reykjavík Arts Festival has taken over the city in May, every other
year until 2004, and annually since. As one of Northern Europe’s oldest
art festivals, it focuses primarily on Icelandic culture while hosting
countless international artists. Past artists and performers include the
likes of the Tiger Lillies, the San Francisco Ballet and Spencer
Tunick. The festival has hosted some fairly notable performances, too,
such as Canadian singer Lhasa de Sela, who performed her last concert
before passing away – as well as The Clash and Led Zeppelin (!).

This year’s programme is as jam-packed as ever, offering a rich
programme full of concerts, exhibitions, theatre, dance, opera and
readings. The whole thing kicks off on May 12th at Laugardalshöll where
Amadou & Mariam play their ever first show in Iceland, with local
funksters Retro Stefson supporting. From there, it’s just non-stop
action until June 5th. Here are some highlights to keep an eye out for.

Orquestra Chekara Flamenca Icelandic Opera, May 30th, 8pm

Founded over 50 years ago by Abdessadak Chekara, the Arab-Andalusian
Orchestra of Tetouan is an institution of Southern Spanish and Moroccan
heritage. Brilliantly blending the worlds of flamenco dance with
traditional al-ala music, the spectacle is a veritable journey into the
Andalusian world.

Bedroom Community Whale Watching Tour National Theatre of
Iceland, May 16th, 8pm

Bringing together some of the brightest talents in experimental and
neo-classical composition in Iceland, the Bedroom Community is comprised
of Valgeir Sigurðsson, Nico Muhly, Ben Frost and Sam Amidon. The Whale
Watching Tour brings these four artists together, cohesively composing
and performing all together for the first time. They are joined by a
string and brass quartet to round out the band. A small orchestra led by
Daníel Bjarnason will open the show.

Readings at Writers’ Homes Various locations and dates throughout
the festival

These intimate and limited events take place in the homes of eight
Icelandic writers. Amongst them are Andri Snær Magnason, writer of the
acclaimed book Dreamland: A Self-Help Guide for a Frightened Nation,
Guðrún Helgadóttir and Sigrún Eldjárn. The readings will cover every
style of writing, from poetry to children’s stories. This is a chance
for the public a chance to have a truly personal experience with local

For the full festival schedule, consult the website at

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