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Reykjavik, guest city at the Mercè

 

The capital of one of the smallest and most modern countries in Northern Europe fills the Mercè Street Arts (MAC Festival) with a talent that is expressed especially through music, but that also embraces audiovisual creations, dance and even... fireworks!



Audiovisual creations at the Ciutadella

 

Something astonishing has suddenly appeared in the Parc de la Ciutadella... A giant volcano, as big as the Cascada fountain. But don’t worry, there’s no need to run away because what you’re seeing is Terra Forma, a display of the talent of artist Ingvar Björn. It’s a completely telluric screening show with an original soundtrack by Icelandic percussionist Sigtryggur Baldursson that will be performed over four nights by the Brincadeira percussion group. Pay attention to the music, because Baldursson is a percussionist with an extraordinary reputation who was not just a member of well-known Icelandic band The Sugarcubes, but who has also created the soundtrack for a number of films, appeared as an actor in a film by Chris Cunningham (Monkey Drummer, 2000) and has even produced a TV series on the Icelandic music scene.


In the same park, you’ll find yet more examples of the natural wonders that Iceland hides if you go inside the dome you’ll find installed this year on Passeig Lluis Companys. There, the Barcelona-based Eyesberg audiovisual creation studio is showing a journey across Iceland that begins in the genes of the Icelandic people and ends up in spectacular landscapes that will take your breath away. An immersive experience that will make you want to rush out and buy a plane ticket to Reykjavik. 

 

Remember that, this year more than ever, the Ciutadella venue is placing the emphasis on dance, and that there will be workshops and chances to dance all over the park. Stay until the evening and watch Milkywhale in performance or, which is the same thing, the electronic pop project of singer, choreographer and performer Melkorka Sigríður Magnúsdóttir and musician Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson. Is it a concert or a function? Because Milkywhale’s mission is none other than to get everyone up and dancing. You’ll see just how easy that is!


The land of ice... and fire

 

Iceland may be full of glaciers, but there’s also fire and volcanoes, which is why some Reykjavik artists not only work in contemporary dance and circus, as Sigga Soffia does, but they also apply their skills, in this case choreographic skills, to the world of... fireworks! You won’t believe the choreographies of light and fire this artist has prepared for you! Come along to the International Fireworks Festival, on the Platja de la Barceloneta beach, if you want to see for yourself.

 

Reykjavik Sounds

 

If you still haven’t heard the music of Halldor Mar, you can make your way to the Passeig de Lluís Companys where, in the Parc de la Ciutadella programme, you’ll hear an Icelander singing the great songs of the Catalan Nova Cançó in English. No, we’re not pulling your leg, this artist who loves Catalonia has breathed new (and international) life into songs ranging from País Petit by Lluís Llach to Noia de Porcelana by Pau Riba. See for yourself how good they sound!

 

In a very different register, this year the Mercè is hosting a series of symphony concerts in the Parc de Nou Barris. Artists include Icelandic mezzosoprano Gudrún Ólafsdóttir. With exceptional vocal qualities and an enchanting timbre, the artist will be performing works by a number of composers, including one or two Icelandic ones... accompanied by the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona i Nacional de Catalunya (OBC), an especially versatile orchestra that is going on a musical journey at this year's Mercè heading for Northern Europe. Care to come along? 


Icelandic and modern

 

At times, these two words, "Icelandic" and "modern", seem to be synonymous. Perhaps the blame lies with an incredibly active and diverse music scene that’s among the most advanced in Europe. How did that happen? With a bit of luck, you’ll find out by listening to the many Icelandic guests taking part in this year’s Barcelona Acció Musical festival (the BAM). The rap strongly influenced by rhythm'n blues and the pop of Emmsjé Gauti; the electronic sounds of Samaris (of which Björk was a fan); the multi-performer women’s hip-hop line-up Reykjavikurdaetur... Yes, in Iceland, music-lovers have a lot to choose from.

 

The BAM is also hosting the acclaimed Ólafur Arnalds who, together with Faroe Island musician Feroe Janus Rasmussen, forms the techno duo Kiasmos; the former singer with Samaris Jófríður Ákadóttir, an electronic-loving multi-instrumentalist who performs under the name of JFDR, and the pop sung in English and with notable contributions from hip-hop and rhythm'n blues of Glowie, behind some of the most recent successes in Icelandic music.

 

Don’t leave the BAM without having heard the enchanting voice of indie artist and composer who also plays the violin, viola and guitar and worked with the acclaimed Múm: Ólöf Arnalds, who is, by the way, cousin of musician Ólafur Arnalds. And you can finish it off with the unique mix of Icelandic literary tradition with music styles that range from krautrock (experimental rock) through pop to punk rock. That’s the recipe of Grisalappalísa, a band made up of Gunnar Ragnarsson, former frontman with Jakobínarín, and poet and former pizzero, Baldur Baldursson.