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  • Writer's pictureRagnheiður Erla Björnsdóttir

Two Nominations at Gríman, Iceland Performing Arts Awards



Our opera MÖRSUGUR has received two nominations for Gríman, Iceland Performing Arts Awards: "Music of the Year" and "Singer of the Year".


Mörsugur is a poetic tale for voice and audiovisuals, premiered in 2023 at Dark Music Days in Harpa, Music Hall. It was commissioned by vocalist Heiða Árnadóttir, my vocal mentor from the age of 14, who, at the time, was the festival's artist in residence. Composer Ásbjörg Jónsdóttir and I had the honour of composing for Heiða, who was willing to workshop any and all musical ideas, no matter how out there they might be. Heiða is a vocal virtuoso who has done much for the contemporary music landscape in Iceland and she continues to advocate for us as well as create opportunities where we can co-create and experiment for and with someone with an instrument of her highest level.



Here we are with the visual artist of the piece, Ásdís Birna Gylfadóttir. The visual world became an integral part of the piece. Fun thing is that Heiða has, at some point of our lives, been a vocal teacher to us all.



Ásdís created the strong, hypnotising visual world that accompanied Heiða on stage. It became the presence of the nonhuman who, rightfully, demanded a loud voice in the story: traveling from our landscapes and beings, into us, the poetry, transforming into videos and finally, landing as a non-negotiable presence in the concert hall (and then - continuing, and moving on). The idea was to have a body of video work be the stage design but Ásdís' work created something much more, as it ended up being a crucial character in (and to) the piece. Heiða said she never felt alone on stage as she was surrounded by these elements - they moved us, supported the audience throughout the performance and told the story from a different perspective.




Later the same year, we had the opportunity to bring Mörsugur to Opera Days in Reykjavík.

The above photo is of Ásbjörg and I at the (Icelandic) president's for Opera Day's reception. I'm lucky enough to work with Ásbjörg in project after project as we are two opposites, but kind of the same (important side note: when I was 19, she told me she had begun her studies in composition and I thought - oh, are we allowed to do that? And with her help, I applied too. Years later, we have co-composed many pieces together and were co-artistic directors at Skálholt Summer Concerts in 2022). Bringing Mörsugur til life was a long-process-and-sometimes-remote-working, but still easy and effortless (like arriving back home). Now we are working on the post production of the recorded music and a poetry book. And of course - a new piece.



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