• January to July 2015 +

    Translators needed:If anyone has the time and interest to help translate 40 years of diaries (see front page story, December Read More
  • Music and Film +

    FILM Thursday 19 March Markerville, AB: Last Days of the Arctic will be shown at Fensala Hall. Doors open 7 Read More
  • Literature +

    Thursdays Lestrarfélagið Gleym-Mér-Ei, Est’d 1996 Winnipeg, MB: Icelandic Collection University of Manitoba. 7 p.m. (except May which is 6:30 p.m.) Read More
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Intimate house concert in Arborg

Photo: Joel Friðfinnsson Author: Joel Friðfinnsson, Geysir, MB

An intimate in-home concert featuring world-renowned jazz guitarist Björn Thoroddsen was held in Arborg on February 11, 2015. The concert, which was graciously hosted by David Gislason and Judy Richardson in their home, drew a crowd of nearly 55 enthusiastic concert-goers. It took place in David and Judy's basement, which is partitioned in a way that provided ample seating and great acoustics. Björn Thoroddsen, who is known worldwide for his mastery on the jazz guitar, is a favourite in the Icelandic community in North America, having performed here numerous times over the years.
The concert ran for about an hour and opened with welcoming remarks from David and Judy, followed by an introduction of Björn Thoroddsen by Ambassador Hjálmar Hannesson, Consul General of Iceland in Winnipeg. The audience was treated to instrumental guitar medleys of songs by The Beatles and Rolling Stones, a song introduced by Björn as an Icelandic tango, and, to flex his jazz muscles, a rendition of Duke Ellington’s Caravan. Following the concert, there was coffee and fellowship. This unique and unforgettable event in Arborg will surely be remembered by all those in attendance.

Vetrahátíð: Winter Festival in Reykjavík and Edmonton Calling

Photo: © Kent Lárus Björnsson Author: Kent Lárus Björnsson, Garðabær, Iceland

I have attended a number of these events throughout the years. This one was special because of the Canadian connection. Edmonton was this year’s special guest and there was a Canadian feeling everywhere. The opening light show at Hallgrímskirkja was spectacular.
There were a number of Canadians in attendance – media, musicians, Mounties, and even a poet. The poet, Mary Pinkoski from Edmonton, fit in great, since Reykjavík is the UNESCO City of Literature. The event, Light Seeps In – a poetic meeting with Edmonton, was  a musical and poetic performance in city hall. It was followed by “Edmonton Calling,” which was a musical performance in Iðnó (the old City Theatre). The musicans from Iceland and Edmonton colaborated together and the plan is to have a simlar concert in Edomonton. The musicians are Pétur Ben, Lay Low, Sóley and Snorri Helgason from Iceland and, from Edmonton, Cayley Thomas, Braden Gates and Kristofor Ellestad along with Paul Cournoyer, and Stephanie Blais from the band Post Script.

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I fought the falls and the falls won

Photo: Stefan Jonasson Author: Stefan Jonasson

For the eighth consecutive year, Iceland topped the Global Peace Index survey, which has led to the usual string of headlines declaring it the safest country in the world. The GPI weighs several factors in determining its ranking, including crime rates, incarceration levels, economic equity, health care, education, and military conflict. So Iceland’s place at (or near) the top of the list is hardly surprising, let alone news. It really is the kind the country where visitors can safely walk alone in dimly-lit places without the need to look over their shoulders.
When my daughters were young, they loved it when I would allow them to wander around in downtown Reykjavík after midnight, betraying none of the telltale signs of worry I showed at home when dusk was merely approaching. Whenever anyone asked me about crime, I’d laugh and tell them about once seeing a headline in a Reykjavík daily lamenting a crime spree, only to discover the article was about graffiti.
Iceland is not without its perils, though. The first time I visited the country, three young tourists were seriously scalded when they ventured too close to Strokkur, the popular geyser, ignoring the thin nylon rope that had been installed to keep visitors at a safe distance. Later on the same trip, a visitor fell to her death at Dettifoss, after she strayed too close to the edge. The greatest threat to visitors comes from automobile accidents, I suppose, which explains why the authorities love to erect roadside displays featuring wrecked cars as a reminder to drive carefully.

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