A men’s choir broke from tradition and did not invite the director of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra (ISO) to their yearly þorrablót feast for one reason: she is a woman.
Vísir reports that the men’s choir Fóstbræður, which holds a þorrablót dinner for themselves every year, traditionally invite the managing director of ISO to attend. This year, however, that invitation was not extended to the current orchestra director, Arna Kristín Einarsdóttir, solely because she is a woman. As per another tradition of the feast, it is exclusively male.
Some members of the choir that Vísir spoke with expressed reservations and worries over the decision. This is due, in part, to the fact that part of the orchestra’s 2014-2015 programme includes the performance of Jean Sibelius’ Kullervo – which requires the use of a male choir and, as Fóstbræður are not the only male choir in the country, some choir members are now worried they will be excluded because of the snub.
However, Arna Kristín insists that any decision-making regarding which choir will perform with the orchestra will be based on the criteria of “artistic performance” alone. At the same time, she expressed her own misgivings about Fóstbræður’s policy.
“They place emphasis has been on having a good relationship with those on the labour market and in public office, whether that’s been the director of the Central Bank, the Minister of Education and Cultural Affairs, and lately, inviting the director of the symphony orchestra,” she said. “It is undeniably strange that this [relationship] concerns solely interactions with other men. I would have thought it would have rather been about the public office, not whether the official is a man or a woman. Maybe that’s something they need to review, because this is naturally something that changes and is changing, fortunately.”