Jack White & the South Iceland Chamber Choir – International Collaborative Compositions Residency

Jack White in Dress Rehearsals with the SICC at Southwark Cathedral 15th November 2013

As part of our production focused residency programme we invited British composer Jack White to work with the South Iceland Chamber Choir (SICC) resulting in the production of his new work “Islands (Ynysoedd)” heralded as “terrifically imaginative and effective” by The Daily Telegraph.

This opportunity was made possible when in Spring 2013 we began working with Sound and Music and Hilmar Örn Agnarsson, founder and conductor of the South Iceland Chamber Choir (SICC), to create new international professional development opportunities for the best of British musical talent. 

White’s work is now featuring in the touring programme of the SICC throughout 2014 at the following festivals:
Reykjavik Arts Festival (22nd May-5th June)
Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival (23 May-7th June)
Umeå International Choir Festival as part of the European Capital of Culture 2014 (17-21 June)

The success of working with White has led to us being able to extend the programme and Collaborative Compositions 2014 is being supported by Nordic Culture Point. Connect to our Facebook, Twitter and Newsletter to stay up to date with up coming opportunities for UK and Scandinavian composers.

the South Iceland Chamber Choir

The first collaborative project opportunity invited the alumnus of Sound and Music’s Embedded programme to respond to a brief inviting composers to work with the SICC in Iceland and the UK to develop a new work for presentation at Southwark Cathedral in the autumn. 

Over the summer of 2013 White developed a new composition to premiere alongside Sir John Tavener’s Three Shakespeare Sonnets in Southwark Cathedral. The aim was to create a unique opportunity for the artists from both countries to trial new ideas in a supportive and experimental environment leading to performances in both countries and throughout Europe.

Jack White & Páll Guðmundsson in Húsafell

White undertook three intensive residencies throughout 2013 as part of the programme. The first in Manchester introduced White to Agnarsson seeing them devise a framework for the new piece and a programme for working with the choir. The second saw White travel to Reykjavik for two weeks in September, being introduced to Icelandic culture, music, arts and attitude before working closely with the SICC to create his work. Finally we returned to Iceland in October introducing White to the music industry that centres around the Airwaves festival and carrying out performance rehearsals at the beautifully remote Skálholt prior to the performance in London.

Jack explaining concept to choir

 The programme gave White the opportunity to join contemporary Icelandic composers already working with the choir which include Bára Grímsdóttir, Ragnhildur Gísladóttir, Páll Ragnar Pálsson and Kjartan Sveinsson (ex-Sigur Rós).  The final performance then took place at Southwark Cathedral in London on Friday the 15th November to a full house featuring in an exciting programme that explored the best in contemporary classical choral music and international collaboration.

Though our productive residency approach our ambitions for the project go beyond simply inviting musicians to the UK to perform existing pieces. It is our aim to create lasing opportunities for both international partners and British artists by connecting the project to our wider network creating sustainable links between artistic communities that live beyond an individual project.

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