I feel very privileged to have experienced a wealth of culture in Nuuk this week. Last week was about playing and teaching for me. This week has been about enjoying other people’s efforts.
Hanne Sandvig Immanuelsen’s Classical Festival has been running all week. It must have taken a lot of effort on Hanne’s part to put this together. Bringing 8 musicians from across the Nordic countries to Greenland takes a lot of organisation and fund-raising. On top of that, Hanne herself was playing first violin in a couple of tricky pieces and also had her own pupils to teach.
Speaking of which, it was great to see the senior string students playing alongside the professionals in some of the pieces in the gala concert on Thursday. We do a lot of side-by-side projects with the RSNO. I’ve never had the chance to step outside and listen, but this week showed very clearly how young people step up when they are joined by professional players. Quite aside from all the amazing experiences I’ve had in the last 6 months, that in itself will inspire my work when I go home.
Kids were to the fore again in the Sunday Brunch concert, this time in the audience. I say audience, but that’s too formal for the setting in Katuaq’s foyer. In this wonderfully adaptable cultural centre, the “brunchers” were eating in the small hall, it’s walls drawn back, whilst the musicians were right in the foyer. The space around them gave young children the chance to get up close. Sometimes I was more focused on the kids than the music, watching their fascination with the double bass, crawling under the piano to get close to the sound and dancing to the music. What a lovely way to present music to people. The playing was good, too, with a mix of chamber works by Mozart, Schubert, Haydn, Tchaikovsky and Lumbye, the Danish Strauss.
Saturday night was a different kind of gig with Greenlandic singer Frederik Elsner and his band, also drawn from across the Nordic region. In a nice twist, this was the most formal concert of the week. Nice to see preconceptions and expectations being pushed aside and people enjoying all kinds of music in all kinds of settings for it’s own sake. Greenland, I’m impressed!
On Thursday I also visited the art museum. I was especially impressed by the current exhibition of photography by Jette Bang, a Dane working as far back as the ’40s. Beautiful portraits showing the very different life in Greenland a generation ago. The exhibition space was superb, too. Adele, if you’re reading this, you’d love it. That Arctic light reflecting off the snow outside coming in through long windows has a beautiful quality.
With so much culture around me, I was inspired to do some composing myself, with a piece for flute, 2 violas and bassoon inspired by the brittleness and wildness of this icy world. I’ve got some recordings of natural sound that I’d like to incorporate, but that’ll test my technical competence when I get home.
Talking of iciness, we’ve been down into the minus 20s this weekend. Now even I will own that that is cold. I find it invigorating when the sun is out but the wind is biting and quite sore on the bits of my face I can’t manage to cover!
I’ve sadly only got 3 more days left, so this is probably my last blog from Greenland. It’s been an amazing month. Time has flown by as there has been so much to learn and experience. I can’t resist adding just a few more pictures of this very beautiful country!