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.
Founded in 2016, Nordic Viola is a flexible ensemble of woodwind and string players forming musical and cultural connections in the North Atlantic Region with an emphasis on contemporary music and its relationship with traditional forms. 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 and 2020 the ensemble was shortlisted for the Scottish Awards for New Music “Making it Happen” award.
Nordic Viola has performed in the Faroes (Summartónar Festival 2018), Iceland and Greenland. They are frequent visitors to the Northern Isles having completed residencies in Orkney in 2018 and Unst and Lerwick in 2016. They have also played throughout mainland Scotland with highlights including soundfestival in Aberdeen 2018 where they premiered a co-commission from Nordic Viola and soundfestival of Anna Appleby’s new piece “Hrakningar” for flute, viola and bassoon and a reception in the Scottish Parliament for the Arctic Circle Conference in November 2017.They also performed in the RSNO Chamber Series in January 2018.
In March and April 2019 Nordic Viola toured Iceland, 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. September 2019 saw our first concert in theHebrides with a performance for the Isle of Coll Music Group.
Nordic Viola has also performed concerts in unusual venues including the famous “Concerto Grotto” cave concerts in the Faroe Islands with Faroese trombonist, Dávur Juul Magnussen. Our concerts are informal and we invite audiences to share their own experiences of the North Atlantic with us.
You can hear some of our music, including our commissions, here.
Find out what other people have said about Nordic Viola here.
In the current uncertain times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our performances have been postponed. However, we are very grateful to our funders for continuing to support us and we look forward to confirming exact dates in 2021. You can see an outline of our concerts schedule below. We will also work to present our work digitally to an even wider audience. Please follow the blog by clicking “FOLLOW” on the blue bar to the side of our home page to stay up to date.
2nd-6th September 2020 Orkney Science Festival – “Histories and Her-stories” – This performance will move online. Details to follow.
April 2021 – Concert as part of 5th International St Magnus Conference UHI “Histories and Her-stories” Islesburgh Community Centre, Lerwick, Shetland 7pm Admission by donation.
1-7 September 2021 – exact dates tbc -“Sagas and Seascapes” – Orkney Science Festival includes premiere of a new work by Linda Buckley
11th September 2021 – tbc – “Sagas and Seascapes” The Boat Hall, Shetland Museum, Lerwick.
November 2020 – Dunblane Cathedral – tbc
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.