Songs of Soaring Birds

Lieder cycle by Thorvaldur Gylfason set to poems by Kristján Hreinsson

Songs of Soaring Birds are fourteen new songs by Professor Thorvaldur Gylfason set to poems by poet philosopher Kristján Hreinsson. The songs are written for voice, piano, and cello, and arranged by composer Thórir Baldursson. The song cycle is an ode to life and to the beauty of the heavens. A fifteenth birdsong, My Songbird Sings, has recently been added to the cycle. Kristinn Sigmundsson (bass), Bryndís Halla Gylfadóttir (cello) and Jónas Ingimundarson (piano) gave a sold-out premiere of the cycle in Salurinn in Kópavogur, one of the Reykjavík area's two main concert venues, 7 September 2014. The concert was repeated in Salurinn 14 September and in Dalvík near Akureyri 21 September. The poet briefly introduced each song. The poetry was projected onto a screen behind the stage. (An English translation of the poetry is available here.) The performance took about 80 minutes including intermission. A TV film as well as a sound recording from the concerts are about to be released.
Kristján HreinssonKristján Hreinsson is a poet, composer, singer, and philosopher. His works include almost 40 published books, mostly poetry, in addition to a number of music discs.
Image result for þorvaldur gylfason pictureThorvaldur Gylfason has composed some 100 songs, including Seventeen Sonnets on the Philosophy of the Heart and Seven Psalms set to poetry by Kristján Hreinsson and Five Seasons set to poems by Snorri Hjartarson. The Sonnets were performed in Harpa in 2012 and 2013 and Five Seasons in Hannesarholt in 2017. Kristinn Sigmundsson, one of the major opera singers in our time, sings in opera houses around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Covent Garden (London), L'Opéra de Paris, Staatsoper Wien, Bayerische Staatsoper (Munich), and Semperoper Dresden. His most recent recording is Schubert's Die Winterreise (2012). Jónas Ingimundarson, one of Iceland's most prolific accompanists, has made dozens of recordings, including several with Kristinn Sigmundsson, and has also accompanied most other Icelandic singers of lieder over the past 50 years.

PROGRAM

1.   In Cold Dark

2.   Bed of Bliss

3.   The Smile of Spring

4.   The Songbird

5.   The Path of Silence

6.   Embraced by Birds 

7.   Earth Lament

8.   A Bird's Heart

9.   A Dove

10. A Waltz

11. The Mirror of Birds

12. Birds Remembered

13. I Sing for You

14. One Chapter


Thórir Baldursson, composer, has been one of Iceland's most popular musicians for more than half a century. Among many other projects, he has arranged music for Elton John.
Bryndís Halla Gylfadóttir has been Principal Cellist with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra since 1990. She has recently recorded the Six Cello Suites by Johann Sebastian Bach. Vignir Jóhannsson, an Icelandic artist working mostly in Denmark, painted the backgrounds of the slides accompanying the performance.
 

BIRDS REMEMBERED

 

At day’s end when the sun sets by the sea
and your warm lips
emit a radiant smile,
I sit alone in autumn and feel the b
lessed sunlight
gently covering my deep eyes.

In my mind I see birds that flew from branch to branch
as tears of joy flo
oded my cheek,
the song that lived is but a memory;
a bliss eagerly greeted by my joyful mind. 

In silent stillness, I will find follow for a while
yes, the birds that I saw here before.
Then I glide out to sea to join
dream´s wonderful world
and the glory of life watches over me.

Here is a clip from state television's evening news broadcast 13 September 2014; what you see and hear is the last verse of the last song.

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