The Icelandic world ‘hvalur’ means whale in English. The voice of these animals has the ability to travel thousands of miles, creating a whale song. For Laura Lovišková and Regina Ulejová it is a synonym for strength, beauty, and togetherness. This is why they named the Icelandic music festival after this intelligent mammal. The festival will take place on October 24 and 25 in the music club Ateliér Babylon in Bratislava.
Hvalur, festival of Icelandic music
- Oct 23-24, Ateliér Babylon, SNP Square 14
- The festival will be preceded by a screening of the documentary film Reykjavík Revisited, shot by Juraj Kušnierik along with Juraj Kováčik at the Artforum bookstore on Kozia Street on October 23, at 19:00. The film contains many of Kušnierik’s interviews with people who create the “music of Iceland”. This is the title of the book Kušnierik wrote about Icelandic music in 2011.
- a hosted discussion with members of the bands Sykur and CeaseTone as well as singer and composer Sunna Fridjons will be held on Thursday, October 24, at 17:00 at the Martinus bookstore at Obchodná 26
- tickets cost €15 and €20 for Wednesday and Thursday, respectively; a festival pass costs €30, tickets are available at tootoot.fm
- the film screening and the discussion will be free
- the festival website is in Slovak and English
“The whale song, which is an intelligent way of communication and pleasant to listen to, is a metaphor for us meaning that physical distance means nothing in music,” said Regina Ulejová, one of the organising duo. “Even though we do not understand the Icelandic language, the Icelandic musicians who will come to Bratislava will carry us over through their music to Iceland. Another dimension of the festival is that whales are an endangered species and the music we are bringing in – not commercial, but alternative – is also an endangered kind of art.”
While Iceland has only about 350,000 citizens, almost every Icelander plays a
musical instrument either as an amateur or professional musician. Another typical feature of Icelandic musicians is that they perform in several bands simultaneously.
“Iceland is really an island of music. It’s part of their culture,” said Lovišková, adding that music is widely supported by the state. “When you are a musician you are respected in the society.”
The Icelandic queen of music is Björg, recalled Lovišková. She pursues the combination of various music and artistic styles, maintains a high level and is an inspiration for many local musicians.
“Icelandic music differs from the music of other countries with its originality and variety of genres and styles,” said Lovišková. “They are not afraid of stepping into ‘lesser known waters’ and risking a bit in the sense that by what they are doing they are expressing their emotions, ideas and messages, regardless of the commercial success of their music.”
Falling in love with Iceland