fimmtudagur, mars 16, 2006

d.s. al coda

My former upstairs neighbor is a friendly guy who used to be in a rock band that toured the world but now is a music teacher in the Reykjavík schools. He also has a band that he conducts in the evenings, sort of a community affair. He kept bugging me about playing with them, and I always had language lessons, or other excuses, but finally we ran into him in the Hrói Höttur when he was picking up a pizza, and I just couldn't say no. So a month or so ago, I dragged out my old wooden Kohlert bass clarinet and went down to a rehearsal.

The crowd of players is an odd mix, with the youngest clarinet-tweedling kid not looking a day over 8 and the oldest stoic trombone guy pushing 80. But all the normal dorky music personalities are there, and playing in a band like that again brings me back to my old middle and high school days, all that good Alfred Reed and Gustav Holst, the smell of the old instrument when it gets warm, the dusty floor underfoot, the drummer who forgot a pencil. It's amazing how well the motley assemblage of people in a wind band translates from a Merrimack Valley childhood to the side of the pond in downtown Reykjavík.

Except that it's all in Icelandic, which makes the whole thing kind of an even-more-bizarro world for me than the normal strangeness of a strange wind band world. Icelandic even has its own wacky names for the notes. (Where a B is an H ["how"] and a B-flat is a B. And a C-sharp is a C-ís and an E-flat is a E-es. Gott og flótt.) But I understand what's going down reasonably well, and when he says "hundrað-sextíu-og-fimm" I know that's measure 165 and that's usually enough to jump in and play some big, bad, bass-clarinet-style sustained whole notes.

And then this week I learned that this isn't just any wind band. Not just some concoction of my old neighbor, but the storied Lúðrasveit Reykjavíkur, the actual City Band of Reykjavík. Representin' the Vík, yo. With our own landmark building and everything. During post-rehearsal beers in our very own building's rec room (somehow beers were never a feature of middle school rehearsals with Mr. Thayer), I learned that not only do we represent R-town (yo) but occasionally all of the Land as well. Cause who do you think plays the Icelandic anthem at Bessastaðir when the Prez welcomes heads of state? Lúðrasveit!

6 Comments:

Blogger Maja said...

Hiya :) I came across your site when I was looking up kennitalas on google, when I was trying to explain what they were to someone here at work. My parents are icelandic but I was born and mostly raised in Australia. I lived in Iceland for one year when I was eight years old.

I went and lived there for a year and a half a few years ago, to get the language back and get to know my relatives, and to see if I was more icelandic than australian.

I love reading blogs like yours because you remind me of experiences that I had while living there. Although I have pure icelandic blood and I was surrounded by relatives there, I still felt like an outsider. It's definitely a bizarro country!

Nice blog :)

17.3.06  
Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

I know that building! Congratulation on making the band.

17.3.06  
Blogger JB said...

Hi Maja,

A big Iceland Report welcome to you...! Hope to hear more comments outta you in the future. I can always count on other bloggers for good commentary. And hope you can make it back to the Land (in your case, the Homeland) soon.

Anonymous building-knower,

Thanks. But in actuality I just kind of showed up and they let me play.

17.3.06  
Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

I think you're about to become famous.

I wonder, could you one day run for 'The President of Iceland' or is that only for Icelandic born citizens.
Then your old Ludrasveit would be playing for you all the time :D

JB for President!!!!!


(maybe start with president of the ludrasveit ;D )

20.3.06  
Blogger Maja said...

G'day again, jb, yes, I'm coming back to the motherland in July for a couple of family reunions. Can't wait! It's been over two years since I came back to Australia.

20.3.06  
Anonymous John D said...

Ack...I wasn't trying to be anonymous. I was the building knower!

20.3.06  

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