Reykjavík Peace Festival Has Started! - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Reykjavík Peace Festival Has Started!

Published February 17, 2015

Look what we have here! A festival that focuses on love, peace and singing! Awesome!

Reykjavík Peace Festival commenced yesterday with 200 kids and teenagers singing “Love” by John Lennon and “To Be Grateful” by Magnús Kjartansson at City Hall

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“The idea is to have choirs from all over the world singing together the same song at the same time,” says festival organiser Ýmir B. Arthúrsson. “We sing for world peace. If we could get the whole population of the world singing and listening to the song for one moment, and not killing each other, we would succeed in creating something divine.”

This week is Reykjavík Peace week, and it features a number of events. “On Wednesday, the birthday of Yoko Ono, we are going to light the peace column in Viðey and have a peaceful moment together with a children’s and a girl’s choir. We are bringing a gong to the island, and will sing and meditate together, and everybody is invited,” Ýmir says.

The grand finale is then on Sunday, where choirs from all over the world sing for world peace together. The Icelandic choirs participating in the project will be uniting in Harpa music hall to sing together in a musical peace party.

700 voices from over twenty different choirs are expected to vocalise their quest for peace all around the Harpa area starting at 16:00. At 17:00 they will then all sing together the aforementioned “Love” song by John Lennon, alongside colleagues all around the world.

“Ben Perry, which is one of the most respected conductors in the world, will be running this adventure in Harpa,” Ýmir says, “which is truly awesome. He was the artistic director for projects like the Harry Potter films, The Hobbit, Hunger Games and more.”

When asked about the story behind the event and the specific song, Ýmir said the following:

“Well, I’m in the tourist industry and a couple of years ago I had a choir from Norway over on one of my trips. They were so fun and everywhere we went, they sang. Behind waterfalls and down in fissures, the sang, which was incredibly fun. I want to make people happy so I decided to try to get more choirs to Iceland to sing in our nature and advocate for peace.

The idea behind everybody singing the same song at the same time came to me after listening to a Páll Óskar interview a couple of years ago. He was talking about the church bells on Aðfangadagur (December 24). At the exact same time, at six o’clock, all church bells in Iceland ring and it is such a majestic moment. Everybody just stops and listens. I wanted to do the same for peace. I originally suggested “Imagine” by John Lennon to Yoko Ono, but she specifically requested that we would use “Love” by John Lennon, which I think is a great choice and also a lot better suited to choirs.”

Ýmir says that choirs from all over the world are going to be participating. “There will be a 300 person choir from Bristol, choirs from USA, France, and the City Hall in Wolfsburg has even  been reserved for choirs and religious groups that are going to come together, sing and advocate for peace. There is also a Ukrainian woman that works on a cruise ship in the Pacific ocean that is going to be singing with us.”

Attendance to the Peace Festival is free, check out the full schedule here.

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