sunnudagur, ágúst 28, 2005

big organ

For a while I had been wanting to go hear some Big Organ at Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Reykjavík (and the dominant feature of its skyline). The organ there is a beast, rising up several stories, with Harley-Davidson-like pipes protruding out into the church space.

Well, today I got my chance. It's the last day of the 8-day kirkjulistahátíð, or arts festival of the church, and this morning was the festival mass. When I got to the church at 5 minutes to 11, it was packed full. I saw some faces in the crowd I recognized from the TV news, members of Parliament and the like. Not only was there organ, but a brass ensemble, too. And not one, but two choirs: one the resident church choir, and the other the Oslo (Norway) Choir, in town just for this.

Mass was given by the Bishop of Iceland somewhere in the middle of a series of beautiful choral pieces and sung psalms. The whole congregation joined in on singing the psalms and I got a real kick out of singing along in Icelandic. (It's good practice for some of the difficult Icelandic vowel sounds, too!) The showpiece of the mass was a choral work with soprano solo by John Speight, and there was a beautiful German a cappella piece as well, where both choirs combined forces and sang from the front of the church. Every time we stood up, I could see out the windows at the far end of the church, behind the altar. They perfectly frame the gentle mountain range off to the East.

I thought a lot about MB and how much she would love to see something as magnificent as this mass. Maybe next time you're in Iceland, MB?

On the way out I shook hands with the Bishop, and wandered into the reception area, where dozens of Icelanders were packed around the coffee tables, pouring out steaming cups, grabbing up cakes, and talking. I have to get myself up early on Sundays more often.


Blogger Paul said...

awesome. that sounds like a great experience.


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