My stay in Reykjavik, Iceland began with my first Air BnB stay. The host picked me up and drove me to the apartment well located uptown with a stunning view of the mountains across the bay. She also dropped in an Icelandic Easter egg just before the easter period, a lovely gesture as i was missing my family during this holiday period! This apartment gave me flexibility to cook at home, and provided ample space to rehearse and work.
I adjusted my time in Iceland to allow me to attend the Tectonics Festival, which ran from April 10 -13, at the incredible Harpa Concert Venue. As well as hearing their music, I was able to meet composers such as Alvin Lucier (with whom I discussed an upcoming commission), Ana-Maria Avram, Iancu Dumitrescu, Cathy Milliken and a range of Icelandic composers. I also spent some time with the conductor and curator of the program Illan Vlokov, who invited me to perform in Robert Ashley’s 'Crazy Horse in Memoriam - symphony' (1963).
The concerts were all well presented in innovative ways, and I was impressed with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra’s flexibility and openness with new and often innovative works that involved spatial presentations, different score formats and electronic components. A highlight was a chamber performance by Norwegian ensemble Lemur.
The days that followed took on a rather different pace. I presented a talk at the Iceland Academy of Arts, which was well attended and generated a lot of interest in my work with Decibel. Here I met several people I had emailed in the past, making new contacts for the future, and was able to discuss the course structures in music there with the coordinator of music, choral composer Hildigunnur Rúnarsdóttir.
In addition, an open workshop with the Icelandic composer collective, S.L.A.T.U.R was held at the Mengi artspace, where myself and five other performers went through and performed a range of scores in the Decibel ScorePlayer, including a new work I had written for the group. This also offered the opportunity for composers in the collective to demonstrate their animated notations and compare techniques. Members of the group were quite varied in their backgrounds, including graduates of Sonology at the Hague, an ex student of Alvin Curran’s, and I met members that perform with Icelandic groups such as sigur rós and Múm. We discussed the state of Animated Notation, and the possibility of a future conference on the topic. Some of the group were interested in being testers for future developments. I had the feeling my timing was not the best, the group had just completed a large project in Tectonics, and were soon to head off to the next one in Glasgow. All the same, I came across some interesting composers and musicians, in particular Áki Ásgeirsson, Guðmundur Steinn Gunnarsson and Jesper Pederson.
During my time there I also was able to visit the Reykjavik Art Museum, where an exhibition of Visual Music, ‘Cadences of Colour and Line’ was being held, and was able to see some rare materials from Oskar Fischinger. Some of the highlights were materials by Icelandic artists, in particular a commissioned collaborative work by Sigurdur Gudjónsson and Anna Þorvaldsdóttir.
Like I had done in Sweden, I attended the cinema (great to see Fellini’s 'City of Women'!), and spent time exploring the island a little which included some horse riding and a visit to the Blue Lagoon, a thermal volcanic pool. Iceland was very expensive, and I doubt a visit there would have been possible without the Churchill funds.
The pace sped up a little once I arrived to London on the 19th of April, though I thought I would never recover from waking up at 4am to get the flight! Here I was to continue work with collaborator Kate McMillan toward a project we are showing in Australia later in the year, and so spent some time editing in Deborah May's Kinoki studio, synching some recording we had done in 2013 with recent images of Kates. I also meet a range of music people I hadn’t met before. These included Kelly Lovelady, conductor of the Ruthless Jabiru orchestra project, composer Jennifer Walshe, as well as a visit to the wonderful Chris Marker retrospective at the Whitechapel gallery with performance artist Kira O’Reilly An impromptu dinner party at my friend Dario SanFilippo’s house enabled further meetings with faculty at Goldsmith London that I had been in touch with via email over the years. I also visited the Royal College of Music to work with pianist Zubin Kanga, who’s piano piece I had been working on at Visby. It was much easier in person than over Skype! The day in the editing suite went well, and the four days, which I was lucky enough to spend in Kate’s Australia Council residency studio in Bow, went very quickly, and on the 24th of April, I flew to Paris, France.