The South Iceland Chamber Choir – Three Shakespeare Sonnets: World Premiere and Memorial to Sir John Tavener

20On Friday the 15th November 2013 Curated Place and the South Iceland Chamber Choir presented a concert at Southwark Cathedral that brought an evening of world premieres to London.  Alongside a programme of Tavener’s music the programme included work from young Icelandic composers, including Kjartan Sveinsson of Sigur Rós fame, and British star Jack White’s new work “Islands (Ynysoedd)” produced through our residency programme “Collaborative Compositions” with Sound and Music and Arts Council England.

Celebrating landscape and literature in Shakespeare’s own place of worship the Three Shakespeare Sonnets came to serve as an emotional memorial to the composer Sir John Tavener who died earlier the same week.

Sir John Tavener - Pall of Husafell

The Telegraph applauded “that the performance was in the hands of the outstanding South Iceland Chamber Choir under its founder, Hilmar Örn Agnarsson”

The Independent noted the emotional power of the choir and the sensitive programming of choirmaster Agnarsson “The encore was Tavener’s gentle setting of the Lord’s Prayer, which left many of the audience in floods of tears”.

The full programme will be performed again during 2014 at the following events (performance dates TBC):

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)

Gudrun Olafsdottir

We were also honoured to welcome a stellar line up of soloists to the event:

Bjorg Thorhallsdottir (soprano)
Elisabet Einarsdóttir (soprano)
Tui Hirv (soprano)
Gudrun Olafsdottir (mezzosoprano)
Eyjolfur Eyjolfsson (tenor)
Hrolfur Saemundsson (bariton)
and Adrian Peacock (bass)

Sir John Tavener gave the Chamber Choir of Southern Iceland the great honour of premiering his new compositions “Three Shakespeare Sonnets”, as well as directing choirmaster Agnarsson to create the definitive sound for his works. The choir’s collaboration with Tavener dates back to the year 2004 when the SICC performed the first complete concert of the composer’s works in Iceland. That concert included the premier performance of the work “Schuon Hymnen”.

Iepo Oneipo - Sir John Tavener and the South Iceland Chamber Choir

In November 2010 Tavener made his first visit to Iceland to attend the launch concert for “Iepo Oneipo”. The record was chosen as CD of the month by Gramophone magazine in October 2010 and was nominated for the best album award in the contemporary and classical music category of the 2011 Icelandic Music Awards.  The performance at Southwark realised the culmination of almost a decade of collaboration and provided a unique opportunity to experience Tavener’s work performed by a choir selected by the composer himself.

The South Iceland Chamber Choir perform Sir John Tavener’s Three Shakespeare Sonnets – Sonnet XVIII. World premiere performance from Curated Place on Vimeo.

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