99-038 (Icelandic Music)
Distributed October 19, 1999
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Glenn Hare

Music Festival celebrates Viking exploration of North America

In honor of the 1000th anniversary of Viking exploration of North America, the Brown University Department of Music will host the Voyages Festival Nov. 4-6, 1999. The festival will showcase the première of seven new compositions and a lecture by Olafur Ragnar Grimson, the president of Iceland.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — One thousand years ago, Leifur Ericsson and his crew of Viking explorers became to the first Europeans to set foot in the Western Hemisphere. In recognition of that extraordinary feat of seamanship, the Brown University Department of Music will première seven new compositions during the Voyages Festival Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 4-6, 1999.

The festival opens at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, in the Salomon Center for Teaching, when the Baltic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Gudmundur Emilsson presents the American première of The Vinland Sagas by Gerald Shapiro, professor of music at Brown. The composition is a musical dramatization of the Viking voyage to this country with narration in Old Norse. Immediately following that performance, the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, will deliver a Stephen A. Ogden Jr. Lecture titled “The Northern Region: A New Dimension in International Relations.”

The festival continues at 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, in Grant Recital Hall with a colloquium featuring Icelandic composers Mist Thokelsdottir and Atli Heimir Sveinsson discussing their new music.

Also on Friday at 8 p.m., a gala presidential concert in Sayles Halls will offer premières of music by three Icelandic composers and three American composers. The concert will feature soloists Gudny Gudmundsdottir, violin, and mezzo-soprano Lynn Helding with the Brown University Chorus and Baltic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra performing the music of William Hudson Harper, Mark W. Phillips, Thorkell Sigurbjörnsson, Thorkelsdottir, Sveinsson and Shapiro.

Among the works to be showcased during this concert will be Shapiro’s Intrigue, which the composer has said is like a mystery novel. He wrote the ending first and then worked backward, sprinkling “clues” to the ending throughout the composition.

The Voyages Festival continues with a performance by the Brown University Chorus, under the direction of Frederick Jodry. The chorus will sing Baltic, Nordic and American music, including a beautiful Te Deum by Arvo Pärt, on Saturday, Nov. 6, at 8 p.m. in Sayles Hall.

After performing at the University, the Baltic Orchestra, Brown University Chorus, soloists and the conductors will embark on a three-day concert tour, from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., to the Embassy of Finland in Washington, D.C., and to the Miller Theater in New York City.

All festival events are free and open to the public. The Salomon Center for Teaching and Sayles Hall are located on The College Green. The Grant Recital Hall is located behind the Orwig Music Building on the corner of Hope and Young Orchard streets.