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.
Nordic Viola has performed in the Faroes (Summartónar Festival 2018), Iceland ( with Charles Ross in the renowned contemporary arts venue Mengi in Reykjavik and in Slátarhusið, Egilsstaðir) and Greenland. They are frequent visitors to the Northern Isles where notable performances include Orkney International Science Festival 2020 and 2021 and Shetland Museum 2021. They have also played throughout mainland Scotland 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 the RSNO Chamber Series in January 2018. In 2021 Katherine Wren and Alex South will perform at Arbroath 2020+1 and soundfestival 2021.
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. During Arbroath 2021, Katherine Wren and Alex South will perform “Whale Song”, based on poetry by Lesley Harrison in Arbroath Fishmarket at Arbroath 2020+1. Our concerts are informal and we invite audiences to share their own experiences of the North Atlantic with us.
In 2019 and 2020 the ensemble was shortlisted for the Scottish Awards for New Music “Making it Happen” award.
Lockdown saw Nordic Viola explore new ways of working, exploring new collaborations with sound artist and composer Renzo Spiteri and landscape artist Orla Stevens.
Forthcoming performances are listed here.
You can hear some of our music, including our commissions, here.
Find out what other people have said about Nordic Viola here.
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.