Nordic Viola will take you on an extraordinary journey in words and music to the Faroe Islands, Orkney and Shetland, Iceland and Greenland. The islands are bound together by a common seafaring heritage and share musical and cultural connections. In a programme shaped by six months travelling in the region, viola player Katherine Wren shares contemporary reflections, traditional melodies and personal testimonies that are shaped by vast northern landscapes.
Nordic Viola is a flexible ensemble of woodwind and string players drawn mainly from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. They have commissioned music from emerging composers Lillie Harris, Anna Appleby (UK) and Arnannguaq Gerstrøm (Greenland) as well as performing pieces by more established composers such as Danish composer Poul Ruders, Faroese/Danish composer Kristian Blak and Orkney composer Gemma McGregor. In 2019 the ensemble was shortlisted for the Scottish Awards for New Music “Making it Happen” award.
Nordic Viola has performed in Tórshavn (Faroes), Seyðisfjörður (Iceland), Baltasound and Lerwick (Shetland) and Kirkwall (Orkney), as well as venues throughout Scotland. In November 2017 they played at a reception in the Scottish Parliament for the Arctic Circle Conference and in January they performed in the RSNO Chamber Series.
Nordic Viola were invited back to the Faroe Islands in July 2018 as part of the Summartónar Festival where they performed in the Nordic House in Tórshavn and Rítuvík church. Katherine also performed alongside Faroese trombonist, Dávur Juul Magnussen, in one of the famous “Concerto Grotto” cave concerts.
In October 2018 Nordic Viola performed at soundfestival in Aberdeen where they premiered Anna Appleby’s new piece “Hrakningar” for flute, viola and bassoon, a co-commission from Nordic Viola and soundfestival.
Nordic Viola toured Iceland in March and April 2019, performing alongside pianist Arnhildur Valgarðsdóttir in Fella- og Hólakirkja, Reykjavik and Charles Ross in the renowned contemporary arts venue Mengi in Reykjavik and in Slátarhusið, Egilsstaðir.
You can hear some of our music, including our commissions, here.
Find out what other people have said about Nordic Viola here.
21st September 2019 7:30 – Isle of Coll Music Group, An Cridhe, Arinagour, Scotland
21st October 2019 1pm – Village Hall, Durness, Scotland as part of “Alongside Autumn – A Composer’s Walk”with Matilda Brown and Julie Aitken
tbc September 2020 Orkney Science Festival
1st November 2020 – Dunblane Cathedral – Sagas and Seascapes – Part of Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters.
Education and Outreach
Education and outreach are a key part of our work. Masterclasses and creative workshops have taken place in music schools in Iceland, Faroes, Greenland, Orkney and Shetland and in conjunction with Dunblane Cathedral Arts Guild.
Katherine is also available for CPD sessions on viola repertoire and teaching.
If you wish to contact us regarding concerts or workshops, please use the contact page.
More news and travel tales from the North Atlantic can be found on the blog.