The festival of sacred arts

The Hallgrimskirkja Friends of the Arts Society

Every other year since the consecration of Hallgrimskirkja in 1987, the Hallgrimskirkja Friends of the Arts Society has held a Festival of Sacred Arts. This year´s festival is the fourteenth one and is as before sponsored by both the National Church of Iceland , The City of Reykjavík and The Cultural Ministry along with different embassies and firms.  Around 300 artists will participate this year, 49 of them coming from abroad.

From the beginning, the artistic director of the festival has been Hordur Askelsson, the cantor of Hallgrimskirkja. His wife, Inga Ros Ingolfsdottir, has been the manager of the festival since 2000 and this is the seventh festival she organizes.

World famous musicians from the church music scene appear at the Festival of Sacred Arts 2015, resulting in, we´re proud to say, a programme even more splendid than before. We are for example very pleased to have the renowned choir conductor and organist Stephen Cleobury of King´s College Chapel, Cambridge, along with his choir the King´s Men, visiting this year. King´s Men is a group of 18 young men known for their fantastic singing.

The organist of Notre Dame, Paris, Olivier Latry, who is among the greatest contemporary organists, plays two concerts: Both a solo performance and a four handed one along with his wife, organist Shin-Young Lee.

We have also managed to get one of the most famous countertenors of today, Robin Blaze, to sing the title role of the festival´s main project: Iceland premiere of G.F. Handel´s oratorio Solomon on Saturday August 15th and Sunday August 16th.

In all, 95 musicians will be performing in Solomon: 5 soloists, the 30 members of the Hague International Baroque Orchestra and the Hallgrimskirkja Motet Choir with its 60 singers. Before, conductor Askelsson along with his choirs and the International Baroque Orchestra has premiered Handel´s oratorios Joshua, Israel in Egypt and Messiah with original instruments to much acclaim.

At the Feast of Hymns many Icelandic and foreign choirs and organists will perform. Amongst other, 5 new Icelandic hymns by 10 women will be premiered. The King´s Men of Cambridge will be one of the choirs singing at the Feast, they will also sing an Evensong during the festival and at High Mass on the final day of the festival.

The festival´s final concert is given by Hallgrimskirkja´s acclaimed chamber choir Schola Cantorum, premiering a Mass for soprano soloist, choir and harp by composer John A. Speight. The visual artist of the Festival of Sacred Arts 2015 is painter Helgi Thorgils Fridjonsson, who will have a grand exhibition of his works of religious nature. Among them are works never exhibited publicly before.

In addition, there will be lectures and two High Masses during the 10 days of festival that everyone is welcome to attend.