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 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.
16th April 2020 5th International St Magnus Conference UHI “Histories and Her-stories”
tbc September 2020 Orkney Science Festival
21st-28th September – Lerwick and Baltasound, Shetland – Sagas and Seascapes
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.