Seen from the Moon – Songs by Jórunn Viðar (IS)


Seen from the Moon – Songs by Jórunn Viðar in jazz- and cabaret arrangements

Ásgerður Júníusdóttir, Agnar Már Magnússon, Matthías Hemstock, Valdimar Kolbeinn Sigurjónsson

Jórunn Viðar (1918-2017) is one of Iceland’s biggest composers and the first woman to study composition. Viðar’s music is diverse but she composed a large number of songs, choral pieces and a piano concerto, besides being a pioneer in creating ballet and film scores in her country. Her works are usually presented as having a national character as she frequently sought inspiration in the Icelandic cultural heritage. But a closer look shows that the inspirations came from various sources. Viðar was a masterful pianist herself who had studied the instrument in Berlin in the years 1937 to 1939, as well as studying composition at Juilliard from 1943 to 1945 with Vittorio Giannini who later tutored Herbie Hancock and David Amram among others. Many of her songs were composed to poems by her Icelandic contemporaries and she was fearless when it came to innovation.

Ásgerður Júníusdóttir, mezzo-soprano, is a classically trained singer who for some time now has done research into the possibility that jazz and cabaret music influenced Viðar’s music, and has worked on this with Agnar Már Magnússon pianist and composer, with the goal of recording an album with arrangements that put Viðar’s music in that context. The recording sessions are finished, but alongside Júníusdóttir and Magnússon, Matthías Hemstock, drummer and and percussionist, and Valdimar Kolbeinn Sigurjónsson, double bass player, provided their share to the recordings and the new arrangements, some of which will be world premiered at the concert.


Ásgerður Júníusdóttir : voice
Agnar Már Magnússon : piano
Matthías Hemstock : drums
Valdimar Kolbeinn Sigurjónsson : double bass

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