The Hafnar.Concert Series keeps the community strong
Since throwing open its doors in September 2022, the multipurpose Hafnar.haus coworking and studio space has become a thriving hub for Reykjavík’s creative communities. Possibly for none more so than the music community, with dozens of musicians and industry initiatives having made it their home base. The floors comprising the top half of the Hafnarhús art museum building are now the nucleus of some of our city’s most vibrant and innovative musicians.
Celebrating this community and its infinite potential, the Hafnar.Concert Series launched last month creating an even larger platform for this community to build on. The new series is curated by José Luis Anderson, also known under the musical moniker Andervel, who teamed up with Hafnar.haus co-founder René Boonekamp and the venue Mengi to make it happen.
“Hafnar.haus needed a venue and Mengi needed programming,” says José Luis, boiling down the basics of the nonprofit concert series. “We are a very tight community and we should keep the sense of community across institutions and work together. Especially with local private venues and private venues that are struggling so, so much.”
Having previously curated the PIKKNIKK concert series at The Nordic House over the summer of 2023, José Luis was already poised to continue on this track, applying their vision of equality and malleability onto this new programme. The first concert, featuring Elham Fakouri along with Þorsteinn Eyfjörð and Owen Hindley, included strong audiovisual elements throughout the night and set a solid precedent for what the series intends to offer.
“I’m very much interested in giving the artist freedom,” José Luis says. “For everybody playing, you want to make sure that they will have a good audience and that they will have a good sound technician. And then I’m just like ‘okay, what do you want to do? What do you want to present?’ I personally have the interest of making more audiovisual events, installations and mixing this cross disciplinary approach in the series.”
They emphasise that their primary goal is to keep the platform accessible for everybody, regardless of origin or popularity, or ultimately even whether they are based in Hafnar.haus or not. While the hub is the core nugget and inspiration of the series, José Luis does not impart the slightest trace of gatekeeping.
“We have this wonderful community, but at the same time I wanted to not keep it only for Hafnar.haus,” they say. “I think that institutions should be open and take care of their own people, but also be open to anybody who wants to come and take part. I’m trying to keep it very balanced. In pretty much all the shows with two artists, most of them have one Icelandic and one immigrant playing.”
It’s on this same principle of openness that Mengi was the most logical venue for them to partner with, as it has been pivotal in binding communities together and welcoming newcomers.
“As an artist, Mengi has been a venue that has opened doors to me and to a lot of people,” they say. “It’s a very friendly place to have this community, so it’s like, okay, let’s help each other out. Let’s just make it work. Both sides are very open to see what else we can do, how we can bring more life to Mengi and how we can bring the community of Hafnar.haus to strengthen each other. And just to keep each other alive.”
With the series currently programmed until March 15 on a bi-weekly schedule, and with potential for it to extend for longer, the coming weeks will offer a diverse array of what their community thrives on — inclusivity, ingenuity, and incredibly good music.
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