|Photo: Jake Oldenkamp / Kamp Photography ©||Wray Pascoe, Gimli, MB|
The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra will present the premiere of a work by Kenley Kristofferson on October 31, 2014 as a part of their Nordic Festival Gala. Kristofferson is a music educator at the Lord Selkirk Regional Secondary School and presently on sabbatical to compose original concert music and digital music for video games. He is the third child of Ken and June Kristofferson of Gimli.
He is the grandson of Kjartan and Valdina Johnson of Arborg and now residing in Gimli. His paternal grandparents were the late Harold and Kristine Kristofferson. Of all the cousins and first cousins once removed, Kenley is the most Icelandic (75 percent); the other quarter is Swedish and Norwegian from his paternal grandfather, making him 100 percent Viking.
Icelandic language and culture have played a role in Kenley’s life. Three of his four grandparents’ first language was Icelandic. Kenley’s father, Ken, a retired teacher and assistant principal in the Evergreen School System, studied Icelandic language, history and literature with Professors Haraldur Bessason and Valdi Larusson. As a result he speaks and writes Icelandic fluently. Kenley’s mother and her twin sister, Joan, spoke Icelandic before they learned English. In addition to their mother, the Kristofferson children were cared for by Hedy Bjornson who was the fjallkona this year at Íslendingadagurinn.
And Kenley isn’t the first Kristofferson involved with the arts. His father, Ken, and other students who studied Icelandic at the University of Manitoba formed the New Iceland Drama Society. Forty years ago, Ken translated the Icelandic play, The Golden Gate, from Icelandic to English. This was performed in the Air Base Theatre in Gimli during the Celebration. Kristine Perlmutter nee Jacobson was the star. Cameron Arnason had the leading role as Jon. The remainder of the cast were family members, some of the Arnason family as well as myself who had a minor role as a Saint. As well as translating, Ken produced and directed the play and helped build the sets for a production that was exceptionally well received. Then, several years ago, Ken served as a translator and guide to an Icelandic National theatre group and choir from Iceland as they toured and performed throughout Western Canada.