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 the Hebrides with a performance for the Isle of Coll Music Group. In September 2020, during lockdown, we took part in the first online Orkney International Science Festival.
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 may be subject to change at short notice. We are working hard to offer as many of our concerts as possible online. You can stay up to date by clicking “FOLLOW” at the bottom of this page.
8th August Arbroath 2020+1 – Fishmarket – 12pm and 3pm – Whale Song – A performance of new work by Katherine Wren (viola) and Alex South (clarinet) inspired by the poetry of Lesley Harrison. Details https://arbroathfestival.com/programme/whale-songs/ Tickets now on sale https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/whale-song-live-poetry-music-performance-and-screening-tickets-160800549773
3rd September 2021 9pm BST – “Sagas and Seascapes” – Orkney Science Festival includes premiere of “Aud” Linda Buckley supported by “Women Make Music” PRS Foundation.
25th September 2021 – The Boat Hall, Shetland Museum, Lerwick – “Sagas and Seascapes Live in Shetland”
November 2021 – Dunblane Cathedral – tbc
14th-16th December UHI Conference “The Edge” – Inverness
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.