From Iceland — The Flute In The Power Of Seven

The Flute In The Power Of Seven

Published May 24, 2024

The Flute In The Power Of Seven
Photo by
Joana Fontinha

Flute Septet Viibra Push Boundaries On Their Debut Album

Harnessing the power of the flute, Viibra is one of Iceland’s best-kept music secrets. Comprised of seven flautists, the group was created from the close collaboration with artist Björk Guðmundsdóttir on her 2016 album Utopia. Viibra released their first single “Eyg” on May 3, following it up in quick succession with their debut album Viibra on May 24 via Marvaða and a release concert to boot.

Originally hand-picked by Björk to lend their woodwind expertise to her compositions, the septet went on to support the artist on her seminal Utopia and Cornucopia world tours.

The up-and-coming group of flautists, who now faces the task of branching out independently from Björk’s work, consists of performers Áshildur Haraldsdóttir, Björg Brjánsdóttir, Berglind María Tómasdóttir, Dagný Marinósdóttir, Sólveig Magnúsdóttir, Steinunn Vala Pálsdóttir and Þuríður Jónsdóttir.

“When we went on tour, we immediately realised that we’d become ‘the girl band,’” recounts Björg, joined by Berglind and Steinunn. “We needed a name because Björk would always introduce us at her shows. She wasn’t going to name every single flute player, so the group and name were established in 2018.”

Spending more or less all their free time together, it was through these adventures that Viibra’s internal relationships grew, ultimately coalescing into a fully-fledged band. Given the relatively small stature of the Icelandic flute community, Viibra admits having pre-existing connections with one another.

“I taught Steinunn, for example,” Berglind points out. “And there are various other connections within the group. Melkorka taught [Björg]. We encompass a wide age range. Like Áshildur, I went to her flute concerts as a teenager. She was an idol. And then, you know, who’s the teacher now?”

Unconventional flutes

When news broke that Björk would cease touring, an opportunity opened up for the seven flautists to branch out independently. During Viibra’s collaboration with Björk, the septet began work on their debut album.

“We worked on this album for two years, not knowing if the tour would be over or not,” Björg explains, continuing, “So it’s not being released because it’s over, but there’s more room for us to do this now.”

It’s sort of like a flute in the power of two. Or flute in the power of seven.

The music presented on their debut album Viibra is a collection of various works — both written by Berglind and Björg, as well as composers Bergur Þórisson, Bára Gísladóttir, Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir and John McCowen.

Viibra’s forthcoming album is an exploration of all things flute. Through the chaotic compositions, you can sense that both composers and performers want to push the boundaries of conventional flute playing, resulting in an experimental amalgamation of classical and contemporary motifs.

“I think it’s composers going further with their ideas about the flute. It’s sort of like a flute in the power of two,” says Björg, quickly correcting herself, “Or flute in the power of seven.”

“Although there are elements of classical flute playing, there’s an inquisitive soundscape going on. There’s no underpinning theme,” ponders Berglind. “Except that almost all composers start with the letter B,” Steinunn adds with a laugh.

Overlapping art forms

Hot on the heels of their upcoming release, Viibra is set to host a release concert in Harpa. Conceived during a photography session with the band’s label Marvaða, the flautists had not originally intended to throw a show. But, spurred on by Marvaða founder Arnbjörg Danielsen, they eventually decided to take things further.

“I think we originally intended to throw a listening party and we were very content with that,” admits Steinunn.

Featuring music performances by the band, Viibra also attest to the show being closer to an art installation. An integral part of the concert is the band’s cooperation with multi-disciplinary artist and choreographer Margrét Bjarnadóttir, who worked alongside Viibra during the Cornucopia tour. “We can’t really talk about what we’re doing without mentioning Margrét,” says Berglind.

“We have this common language with Margrét which has developed over the years. It’s unconventional to have this music prepared alongside a whole show with movement. It becomes a sort of installation, too. It’s very unusual and we couldn’t have been able to do it without building this for six years with Margrét,” says Björg.

While including physical movement in their sets is not a novel concept for the band — after all, they were heavily involved in the Cornucopia stage production — it is not in their DNA.

“In the world where we come from, you just show up and play. This won’t be a dance piece per se, but it’s just as important how we play and how we move around the stage,” Berglind explains.

According to Björg, guests can expect “something they’ve never experienced before.” Berglind admits to not fully knowing what to expect. “It’s such an unusual mix — this music, the collaboration with Margrét. It’s close to some sort of a theatre piece,” she says.

Listen to “Eyg” on available streaming platforms. Viibra’s debut album Viibra is out May 24. The band will perform at Harpa in celebration of their release on May 26. Tickets are available at


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