“This is my little experimental playground,” the brilliant pianist Víkingur Òlafsson says when we call him up for a chat about the award-winning music festival Reykjavík Midsummer Music, taking place June 22-25.
Víkingur is the founder of the chamber music celebration, and his passion for it is strikingly contagious, even over the phone. Asked about his aim for the festival, he says that he doesn’t really want people to know what to expect—except something they won’t forget easily.
“I’m creating programs that I think by normal standards in classical music would be considered quite adventurous,” he says. “The great thing with contemporary music, or any music, is that right now we’re living in a really good time for it. People are much more open, adventurous and personal in the way they’re listening to music. Nobody is really thinking so much on what everything is called, or what kind of labels or category it is.”
That we are indeed much more free when it comes to accessing music nowadays and forming a broad perception about it, is a fact. Freedom also happens to be the theme of the festival, and Víkingur explains that he wants to bring more openness to it. Telling a story of each concert piece himself, as he plans to do, will be a new approach, one rarely seen before.
This year’s lineup is the strongest in the five years that Reykjavík Midsummer Music has been up and running. Víkingur hopes the mixture of international and Icelandic performers will not only surprise the audience—but also each other.
“It’s quite simple,” he says. “I just want to bring some of the best musicians in the world to Reykjavík to play chamber music and all sort of music in Harpa, by the most beautiful time a year.”
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