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 travelling in the region, immersed in the culture of the Far North, 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, described by The Scotsman as a “quietly pioneering project,” 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, with pianist Arnhildur Valgarðsdóttir in the Bláakirkjan Summer Concert Series in Seyðisfjörður) and Greenland. They are frequent visitors to the Northern Isles and have also played throughout mainland Scotland including soundfestival in Aberdeen 2018 and 2021 and the RSNO Chamber Series in January 2018.
In 2019 and 2020 the ensemble was shortlisted for the Scottish Awards for New Music “Making it Happen” award and founder Katherine Wren was highly commended in the 2020 Royal Philharmonic Society/ABO Salomon Prize
In 2020, Nordic Viola produced their first digital concert for OISF and UHI Institute of Northern Studies and have also recorded performances for the RCS/RSE Art-Making in the Anthropocene Series and the Scottish New Music Awards 2021.
In 2021 Nordic Viola toured Orkney and Shetland and on the Scottish Mainland appeared in Dunblane and at Arbroath 2020+1. In 2022 Nordic Viola will perform in Iceland and Orkney.
In 2022 Nordic Viola’s Sagas and Seascapes, a multimedia production with music, art and film, was selected as part of the Made In Scotland Showcase and is running at the Scottish Storytelling Centre from 15th-17th August as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe, with an online performance on 18th Ausgust.
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.