Thursday, June 14, 2012

Eivør / Yggdrasil - Magic of the Faroe Islands by Ken Pickering

Eivør / Yggdrasil - Magic of the Faroe Islands 
by Ken Pickering / Artistic Director

Right off the top, I’ve just got to say that Eivør Palsdottir and Yggdrasil will be one of the great discoveries of the festival and I can confidently assure you that there’ll be no disappointment – please trust me on this – you can thank me later for the recommendation. This lady of the Faroe Islands is one of the wonders of the music world (some call her the next Bjork), blowing minds everywhere she sings with a voice that simply demands to be heard. I first heard about her a few years ago, taking serious note after hearing one of her earlier albums. She’s been popping up on my radar every since.

Now I’ve been very fortunate to visit almost all of the Nordic countries (and each definitely has it’s own unique and distinctive national character) with the exception, sadly, of these remote islands. The Faroe Islands are a self-governing Danish protectorate in the far reaches of the North Sea between Norway and Iceland possessing a similar history and mythology as neighbouring Iceland. The Faroese have kept their ancient language and Nordic traditions alive in a landscape that is reputedly enchanting, mysterious and beautiful in the extreme.  Thorshofn is the world’s smallest capital city populated by only 15,000 inhabitants.

Seriously, watch this interview, you probably won't understand a word, but the video gives us a great view of the splendour of Faroe Islands - at the G Festival.

This environment is that into which the powerful singer Eivør was born and raised. Growing up in a small village she developed her passion for singing early on with her family; in early times there were no instruments so the voice was the musical focus. I think you’ll get the idea of what that might have been like from some of the musical clips.

Eivør - Trøllabundin

Although initially known as a jazz performer  (studying in Reykjavik) she is also very familiar with rock contexts recording the album Clickhaze in 2002. Often mentioned by some trusted festival colleagues in the same breath as her Icelandic muse (and much more famous) Bjork, Eivør although much younger is recently gaining the recognition she’s due. She’s already performed in a wide array of settings with Canadian Bill Bourne (2004), classical opera with Kristian Blak and with the English composer Gavin Bryars in 2008 and more recently in 2010 working on a chamber opera based on Marilyn Monroe!

Eivør - When I Think of Angels

The solo album that launched her career was released in 2000. Krisitan Blak, often cited as the mentor of the Faroese music scene invited Eivør to join his band Yggdrasil (translation: the world tree) in 2002 and recorded on the band’s first album that year. Yggdrasil (listen to this short piece) is a very impressive world / roots / jazz ensemble that has recorded a long list of captivating albums in the past decade. Although she’s worked in many contexts over the past decade, Eivør’s musicial relationship with Kristian Blak and Yggdrasil continues to this day.

My favourite context for listening to her music is in the small intimate chamber setting performing her repertoire of ancient folk tunes and original material. It really is magic! Their concert will feature Eivør in duo with bassist Mikael Blak and with Yggdrasil in full ensemble. The band will also perform some instrumental pieces sans voice. From June 20th Eivør and Yggdrasil will embark on a tour, beginning in Reykjavik, Iceland and then continuing on to North America – Rochester, Vancouver, Edmonton and Minneapolis. Clearly I’m really cranked up about this show – but hopefully with good reason. Don’t miss this concert – please join me at Performance Works June 25th. It’s a very special event indeed.

kp (6/14/2012)

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