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An exciting new project with musicians from Poland

 

Starting in autumn 2022 Funi is working on project called Í gær og í dag / Wczoraj i dziś (Yesterday and Today) with the Szczecin Vocal Project from Poland.

 

The musical dialogue will explore the traditional folk music of each country and contemporary music growing out of those traditions, including new compositions. The project takes place between September 2022 and April 2024,

 

The main elements of the programme will be three visits to Iceland by musicians from Szczecin and three visits to Poland by musicians from Iceland. The visits will include public concerts, workshops and lectures.

 

The first visit from Poland to Iceland is now scheduled to take place from the 14th to 21st of November, when four members of the Szczecin Vocal Project, with their musical director Pawel Osuchowski, along with respected singer and musicologist Adam Strug will visit Reykjavík.

 

During the visit we will present three concerts, two workshops and two lectures in Reykjavík. Details of events are over on the Gigs and tour dates column.

Kyndilberar / Torch Bearers - video series

Along with our good friend, Linus Orri Gunnarsson Cederborg, Chris works on a project called Vökufélagið. It's a network of people who are dedicated to building a vibrant, inclusive folk music and dance community in Iceland.  In the past we have organised the Vaka Folk Festivals and workshops and sessions in the Reykjavík area.

 

When it became clear that it was not possible to organise concerts or other live music events during the Covid pandemic, Vökufélagið decided to focus on video production as a way to preserve and share the living traditions of Icelandic folk song, because people who are curious about Icelandic singing traditions find that there is little to be seen on the internet.

Following the premiere cinema screening of the first seven videos, the first of the Kyndilberar / Torch Bearers videos, which features Bára with our good friend Ragga Gröndal, is now up on YouTube. We think it is rather good. Have a look and (if you do) like it. We would also love people to subscribe to the Vökufélagið channel.

...and here's one of Chris singing with Linus Orri Gunnarsson Cederborg, co-organiser of Vökufélag and the Vaka Folk Festival.

Nordic Harp Meeting 2022

20 -23 October

Turku, Finland

Since its inception in 2008, theNordic Harp Meeting (NHM) has evolved into a rather special community of musicians and researchers. It moves from country to country and takes place just once a year, usually around the end of October. We try to go as often as possible.

2022 saw us heading off to Turku in the south-west of Finland. It was our ninth NHM, but the first in Finland and also our first visit to Turku.

As always it was a packed three days, full of musical surprises, interesting discussions, friendships renewed and new ones made.

The name Nordic Harp Meeting is actually quite misleading. The meeting has expanded to include all sorts of mostly plucked stringed instruments as well as the occasional flute or set of bagpipes. There are also singing workshops. Although we meet in the Nordic and Baltic countries, people travel from much further afield. This year there were people from  as well. Norway, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Denmark, Germany, Spain and Czech as well as us from Iceland.

We took part in the excellent public concert on Saturday night. Here's a little clip from Sally Kankare's phone.

Earlier in the day we led a workshop on the tunes and style of singing used in the Icelandic rímur ballads.

A multi-national group of twenty or so people enthusiastically listened to old recordings and joined in singing a selection of these special melodies.

Like many festivals and workshops, the 'free time' between programmed events is a great opportunity to meet people and share ideas and information and in Turku we were able to have several very interesting and useful discussions about our current researches into old Icelandic langspils.

Special acknowledgment and thanks are due to Menningarsjóður Íslands og Finnlands whose funding made our participation possible.

Dagur rímnalagsins (Day of rímur)2022

15th September

Reykjavík, Iceland

As we get back into live performing events that used to be annual fixtures have started to get going again. One of these was  very successful annual Dagur rímnalagsins (Day of rímur) concert, organised by Bára and held on 15th September at the Iðnó Theatre venue in downtown Reykjavík. The room was packed and we had to bring in more chairs. There was a great atmosphere as various sólos, duos and the Kvæðakórinn Reykjavíkur performed rímur extracts, songs in rímur style and traditional two voice harmony tvísönvar songs. 

Funi performed two songs from our forthcoming album 'Gárur' with langspil, kantele and shruti accompaniment. We also joined in with other performers through the evening.

Next year's Dagur rímnalagsins will fall on a Friday and will take place in collaboration with the Vaka Folk Festival, which will be returning after a three year gap, due to Covid.

New Funi album

Chris has been working on plans for recording our third full length Funi album. We have been casting our net wide and collecting together songs and rímur extracts that are very little known. Bára has also been writing new tunes for some of the texts. This process of discovering and then arranging hidden riches is one of the things that we love about working with traditional music, whether it's from Iceland or England.

We are adding a new dimension to this album project. 

As well as our usual song arrangements, with langspil, Íslensk fiðla, kantele and harmony vocals, we are working with our friend Buzby Birchall of Hidden Sounds to make special recordings in the Icelandic landscape. Through the summer of 2019, we made field recording trips to quite a few locations connected with the songs, so the sounds of the earth and sea that the songs first sprung from will be present, like veins of minerals through rock, throughout the album.

Performance dates 2022

​Tues. 12th - Weds. 13th July

Kaustinen Folk Festival

Kaustinen, Finland

An excellent festival, where we played two full concerts and had a marvelous time.

Thurs. 28th - Sun. 31st July

Korrö Folk Festival

Linneryd, Sweden

One of the nicest festivals we have ever played at. Wonderful location, great atmosphere and a super warm audience.

Thurs. 15th September at 20.00

Dagur Rímnalagsins concert

at

Iðnó

Vonarstræti 3, 101 Reykjavík

Tues. 15th November at 17.00

Wczoraj i dziś / Í gær og í dag

Pawel Osuchowski, musical director of Szczecin Vocal Project and Bára Grímsdóttir, of FUNI and chairperson of Kvæðamannafélagið Iðunn will describe the purpose and plans of the project.

at

Embassy of Poland,

Þórunnartún 2, 105 Reykjavík

Tues. 15th - Sun. 20th October

Wczoraj i dziś / Í gær og í dag

CONCERTS

Concert 1  

Tues 15. November kl. 20.00

At the source of Polish music

Adam Strug &

Szczecin Vocal Project

Landakotskirkja,

Túngata 13, 101 Reykjavík

Admission 2.500 kr.

 

Concert 2

Thurs. 17. November  kl. 21:00

Love songs from the Green Forest and the Water Valley

Adam Strug, Bára Grímsdóttir and Szczecin Vocal Project

Mengi

Óðinsgata 2, 101 Reykjavík

Admission 2.500 kr.

 

Concert 3

Sunday 20. November kl. 17.00

Wczoraj i dziś / Í gær og í dag

Adam Strug and Szczecin Vocal Project, Funi (Bára Grímsdóttir and Chris Foster) and Valskórinn

Friðrikskapella

við Valsheimilið að Hlíðarenda,

102 Reykjavík

 Admission free

Weds. 16th November at 20.00

Special Söngvaka with the Szczecin Vocal Project from Poland

at

Gröndalshúsið

Fischersund 101, 101 Reykjavík

Booking now for 2022

and beyond.

To enquire about booking us for concerts or workshops, just send us an email from the contacts page here on our website.

 

Watch this space for updates and more dates. 

If you scroll down you will find info about our recordings and publications.

albums

All of our recorded music is available as physical CDs and downloads from 

 

 

You can also find it on multiple streaming platforms, such as Spotify,  iTunes, Amazon, Deezer and so on.

Icelandic folk music with traditional Icelandic langspil and fidla

FLÚR (GMCD007) 

Our album of 15 Icelandic songs was released in April 2013. Flúr is an old Icelandic word that means decoration or tracery. 

   

The physical CD comes in a digipak along with a 32 page with lots of photographs, notes about the songs and full song texts in both Icelandic and English translation all beautifully designed by Inga Elsa Bergþórsdóttir.

   

As well as our usual mix of instruments, we are joined by some excellent musical friends and relatives who add their spice to the mix.  This is family based, cottage industry record production at its very best.

… haunting and fascinating. 

Simon Broughton – Songlines, October 2014

 

These consummate and intensely mesmerising performances are quite simply superb in their natural authority. 

David Kidman - NetRhythms.co.uk, May 2013

 

It’s a particular pleasure, to come across this wonderful disc by Bára Grímsdóttir - one of Iceland’s foremost traditional singers - and

British-born multi-instrumentalist, Chris Foster.

Oz Hardwick R2 magazine - July 2013

 

You can download songs from FLÚR and our other album FUNI from Bandcamp. You can buy physical CDs online from Bandcamp or from us in person, here in Reykjavík, via the email link on the contacts page, or at our gigs.

Funi (GMCD002)

Our first album was released in 2004. The album was recorded in England, where we were living at the time. We were joined on the album by our good friend and fabulous squeeze box player, John Kirkpatrick. The photo on the front of the album shows three generations of Bára's family, photographed at the family farm in 1932. Her father, who also wrote several of the song texts on the album, is the little blond haired boy in the bottom left of the photo.

Chris' albums

Working with Groupa, from Sweden

In the summer of 2019, we were contacted by Mats Eden of the great Swedish band Groupa. They were making an album of their interpretations of Icelandic folk music. They visited Reykjavík for a few days and we had a great time showing them all sorts of examples Icelandic folk song tunes.

Armed with a pile of raw materials, they went home to work out what to do with it. They returned to record the album and they invited Bára to sing on the some tracks and also invited bass player Skuli Sverrisson and guitarist Hilmar Jensson to play on the album.

The album, Kind of Folk 3-Iceland was released on-line in the spring of 2020 and it is very good indeed.

​​We look forward to hearing the music on the album performed live here in Iceland.

​More about Groupa and the album here:

Söngvaka

For the past couple of years, we have run a monthly open singing session in downtown Reykjavik. The sessions are held in the former home of Benedikt Gröndal a 19th century Icelandic naturalist, writer and all round cultural activist.

​The idea behind these sessions is to create a welcoming space and opportunity for people to come and sing together and to share and learn new songs. In particular we focus on the unique, traditional Icelandic two part harmony songs called Tvísöngur, and the old dance ballads called Sagnadans or Vikivaki, which are largely overlooked in the wider Icelandic musical world.

Funi's first Nashville recording session

 or

The langspil comes to Nashville

In January 2019 we recorded langspil, Íslensk fiðla and vocals for a song on a new album by American singer and harpist Karen Thames Ballew, who is based in Nashville, USA. The album titled The Deer's Cry is now out, and very nice it is too. We wonder if this s the first time an Icelandic langspil has ever appeared on an album from Nashville?

Karen has also released a beautifully shot video of her 'Icelandic song'.

Click the button to see it.

Kvæðamannafélagið Iðunn

Kvæðamannafélagið Iðunn is one of the oldest established cultural organisations in Iceland. It was founded in Reykjavík in 1929 and is dedicated to the maintenance and preservation of the traditional Icelandic​ singing and poetic styles associated with the Icelandic rímur tradition. Bára was first introduced to this venerable society by her parents, who were active members. They took her along to meetings and expeditions as a child and she has been involved with it to a greater or lesser extent ever since.


Kvæðamannafélagið Iðunn was originally founded by working people who were moving into Reykjavík from the countryside. They wanted to keep up their old ways of self made entertainment. The first known rímur dates from the 14th century and the tradition continued as an important form of home entertainment in farms, right up to the 20th century, when big changes in Icelandic society and the arrival of home entertainment in the form of radio, and later on TV, led to its decline.

 

Bára has been the formaður (chairperson) of Iðunn since 2015. Now in this ninetieth anniversary year, the society is going from strength to strength as more people become interested in this unique and beautiful form of traditional ballads. The precise founding day of Iðunn was the 15th September 1929 and  the society held a special anniversary celebration weekend on the 14th -15th September 2019. Other events are being held during this ninetieth year.

As formaður of Iðunn, Bára has worked hard to encourage a more outward looking atmosphere, to attract more and younger members into the society. To that end, among other things, she has instigated an annual rímur concert every autumn (four so far) and also an annual 'Skemmtikvöld' an evening of funny songs and poems, which takes place in a bar or cafe downtown in the new year.

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Chris' solo English language albums are all available from Bandcamp.com.

Full info about them can be found over on Chris' website.

Bára sings

Passíusálmar

(Hymns of the passion)

by

Hallgrímur Pétursson

The Passíusálmar are fifty hymns written by the Icelandic priest and poet Hallgrímur Pétursson (1614 -1674) and completed in 1659. These meditations on the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ hold a special place in Icelandic culture and are also the most widely published and translated Icelandic literary work.

 

Hallgrímur intended the hymns to be sung, so he set each one to a known tune in the Lutheran hymnody. People learned the hymns by heart and sang and read them in their homes during Lent. Over the years, the hymn tunes evolved in the mouths of the people as the melodies, which were originally German, were moulded to the sounds and structure of the Icelandic language.

 

In the twentieth century the practice of singing the Passíusálmur started to decline.  Coming in at around ten minutes each, the hymns do not fit comfortably with contemporary ideas about timing, although they continue to be read a lot in churches and on the radio, especially on Good Friday. Fortunately, recordings of older people singing the hymns were able to be made, before they passed out of use.

 

In March 2020, Bára Grímsdóttir researched traditional melodies to seven of the Passíusálmur and performed them in Háteigskirkja, a church in our neighbourhood in Reykjavík. Covid restrictions meant that only a very small number of people could be present, but the performance was live streamed and videoed.

 

We are happy to share this very special music here.

Passíusálmur number 36

Um skiptin á klæðunum Kristí

(Christ's garments divided)

​ Passiusálmurs numbers 37 - 42 are over on the music and videos page.

Regular folk music activities in Reykjavík

 

Part of our mission as Funi is to share our traditional music and to collaborate with other enthusiasts to encourage more people to get actively involved in singing, playing and dancing. We are involved in several regular opportunities to get involved with playing and singing folk music in the Reykjavík area.

 

Kvæðamannafélagið Iðunn meetings

Iðunn holds monthly meetings at Tónskóli Sigursveins, Hraunberg 2, 111 Reykjavík  from October to May.

 

On the first Wednesday of the month people meet for the Kvæðaæfing session, where they practise singing traditional kvæðalög songs. Then, two days later, on the first Friday, the society has a general meeting with talks on all sorts of topics, short performances, singing, poetry writing and more besides.

 

There are two more Iðunn meetings in the year. On the 15th June, members gather at a picnic area that they maintain in a wooded area that they planted in 1991, at Heiðmörk, just outside Reykjavík. The other meeting is an annual coach trip on the first Saturday of September. These day trips visit places such as historic sites, museums, cultural organisations etc. The trip usually ends with a meal, before travelling back to Reykjavík.

 

Reykjavík Trad Sessions

For some years now, there have been regular weekly folk music sessions in downtown Reykjavík. The music played at the sessions is primarily Irish, Scottish and Swedish tunes, with the occasional song added into the mix. There is a core group of about seven or eight people who turn up most weeks. Most of the players are immigrants or students who are studying here for a while and we also quite often welcome players from other countries who are passing through or here on holiday. The group is very friendly and both the music and the craic are very good.

 

Check out the Reykjavík Trad Sessions Facebook page for regular updates about what's going on and where it is happening.

Big honour for Bára

On 17th June 2019 (75th anniversary celebration of Iceland's full independence from Denmark), Bára was invested as a Knight of the Order of the Falcon, by President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson. The honour was awarded 'For protecting and re-newing the traditional music of Iceland'.

Jón Árason - the opera

Apart from her work in Funi, Bára is also a busy composer. She writes music for all sorts of groups and occasions. For the last ten years she was working on her biggest project so far, composing an opera about the life and times of Jón Arason, the last catholic bishop of Iceland, who was executed along with his sons in the reformation of 1550. She completed the piece in the summer of 2021.

 

Next step is to find a way to get it performed.

Bára's kid's book

With her other hat on, as a composer, Bára has written a musical story for children, titled Ævintýrið af Sölva og Oddi kóngi. It was premiered as a live performance in January 2016.

It is now published as a beautiful illustrated book with CD

by

  Töfrahurð bókaútgáfa  

ISBN 978-9979-72-968-6

The disc features narrator / singer Margrét Eir and an eleven piece band. Watch a trailor on You Tube here: 

​​

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