University Singers in Iceland

Posted on 19.03.2018 by Darden

Written by Ashlyn Rock ’18
BM Vocal Performance
BA English Literature

The University Singers’ trip to Iceland was surreal now that I look back at how much we experienced in those five days. During our stay, University Singers and Friends of Music traveled around Reykjavik and toured the city and the countryside in the Golden Circle Tour. We were also lucky enough to see the Northern Lights and visit the Blue Lagoon. We learned so much about the history of Iceland and the culture of it peoples. These native Icelanders were proud of their Viking ancestors and were connected to and cared deeply for the island’s natural resources and raw beauty.

University Singers and the National Philharmonic had the honor and privilege of performing a religious service at the Hallgrímskirkja and a concert at the Grafarvogskirkja Church with local singers and instrumentalists from the Iceland Symphony Orchestra. It was humbling to think that we had the opportunity to perform in such unique venues on the other side of the Atlantic, surrounded by musicians we had just seen perform Beethoven’s 5th Symphony the night before at the Harpa Concert Center with Conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier. We took our repertoire and sang it wherever possible; we sang impromptu spirituals and Icelandic pieces in the historic churches we visited like the Skálholt Cathedral. We even serenaded the Northern Lights as we waited in the cold for them to become visible in the star-speckled sky. I think the most resonating and gratifying aspect of our travels was knowing that our music transcended beyond the boundaries of George Mason University; our music affected the lives of those on this island, and we shared in the experience of music-making.