Pound for pound, has another nation provided more intriguing, otherworldly music than Iceland? To start, there’s queen Björk, grandaddies Sigur Rós, pop folk juggernauts Of Monsters and Men, up and comers Kaleo, and film composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. Mix in veterans múm, a gang of others, and then do the math: Iceland has about as many residents at Cleveland.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Reykjavík Festival is already underway, but there will be opening night festivities at Walt Disney Concert Hall this Friday, April 7. The opening program will include performances from Icelandic artists múm, amiina, Skúli Sverrisson & Ólöf Arnalds, dj. flugvél og geimskip (Airplane & Spaceship), and JFDR.

The Festival, which started April 1 and runs through June 4, will feature “established and emerging acts from the flourishing Icelandic music scene,” curated by Esa-Pekka Salonen and Daníel Bjarnason, as well as visual art from Icelandic artists Shoplifter (Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir) and Siggi Eggertsson.

The Festival will include the U.S. premiere of the film “Driving at the speed of the Nordic sun” by Xárene Eskander, with music by Daníel Bjarnason, and the West Coast premiere of Björk Digital, an exhibition of groundbreaking VR video works featuring music from Björk’s latest album, Vulnicura. A pioneer in music, art, and technology, Björk has worked with a collection of world-renowned directors, programmers, and visual artists to create a series of innovative virtual reality works displayed throughout a series of rooms. Björk Digital will invite guests to experience these immersive works through the latest in virtual reality technology.

All tickets for Friday’s opening festivities are only $25. Here’s a bit more on what you can expect inside (and outside!) Walt Disney Concert Hall on Friday.

múm is a 7-piece musical group known for its exploratory music that incorporates electronic sounds, soft vocals, glitch beats, sampling, and use of a variety of traditional and unconventional instruments. Described as “Iceland’s leading electronic band” by Rolling Stone, múm has released six albums.

Originally formed as a classical string quartet at Reykjavík College of Music in the late 1990s, amiina went on to perform diverse genres of music with various bands in Reykjavík. In 1999, they became the string section for Sigur Rós, performing with the band on tour and on multiple album recordings over the next decade. 2007 saw the release of amiina’s debut album Kurr, featuring an array of instruments – including musical saws, kalimbas and music boxes – for what The Guardian described as “in a strange, powerful place between sophistication and innocence.” The group’s latest album Fantômas was originally composed as a live score to the eponymous 1913 silent masterpiece directed by Louis Feuillade.

An established bass player, composer and producer, Skúli Sverrisson has worked with artists including Laurie Anderson (as her music director), Wadada Leo Smith, Lou Reed, Blonde Redhead, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Jóhann Jóhannsson and many more.

Ólöf Arnalds is a singer and multi-instrumentalist – classically trained on the violin and viola – whose fourth solo record Palme (produced by Skúli Sverrisson and Gunnar Tynes) was released in 2014 on Björk’s label, One Little Indian. Sverrisson and Arnalds’ collaboration began in the early 2000s when Arnalds took an active part in the making of Sverrisson’s critically acclaimed album Sería, and they have gone on to become the founders of Mengi, a performance venue for experimental music and arts in downtown Reykjavík. Skúli Sverrisson & Ólöf Arnalds will be joined for this performance by collaborator Ólafur Björn Ólafsson, a composer, percussionist and keyboard player.

dj. flugvél og geimskip (Airplane & Spaceship) is the one-person orchestra of Steinunn Harðardóttir. dj. flugvél og geimskip’s live performances combine music, poetry and theater for what she describes as “horror electronic music from outer space,” utilizing keyboards, drum machines and vocals. Her latest album Glamúr í geimnum featured dance beats and melodies influenced by music from India and Syria.

JFDR is the latest project from Jófríður Ákadóttir, who draws from classical, folk and electronic music to create a blend of cyclical guitar parts with soft, minimal soundscapes, and poetic wanderings full of rich imagery and subtle emotions.

Notably, Reykjavík Festival will include three nights of performances from Sigur Rós performing with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (April 13, 14 and 15). Orchestral arrangements are by Daníel Bjarnason, Dan Deacon, David Lang, Missy Mazzoli, Anna Meredith, Nico Muhly, Owen Pallett,and Páll Ragnar Palsson.


Friday, April 7, 2017
Reykjavík Festival
Opening Night: Made in Iceland

BP Hall, 7:00PM
* Installation by Shoplifter

WDCH Stage Performances, 7:30PM
Skúli Sverrisson & Ólöf Arnalds
dj. flugvél og geimskip (Airplane & Spaceship)

W.M. Keck Foundation Children’s Amphitheatre
*Driving at the speed of the Nordic sun film screening (film by Xarene Eskander, music by Daníel Bjarnason) (continuous screenings)

Additional artists and activations as part of this Opening Night to be announced.

* will remain throughout Reykjavík Festival

For full details on Reykjavík Festival, click here.

For tickets to Opening Night, click here.