Honouring the memory of Jónas Hallgrímsson (1807-1845), a profound poet and a brilliant natural scientist:
On August 5 in Johnson Hall, Gimli, a singular, cultural event took place, inspired by one man’s life and legacy, or the Icelandic nineteenth century poet and natural scientist, Jónas Hallgrímsson. Some time ago, the Ministry of Culture and Education in Iceland formed a committee to organize events throughout this year, in collaboration with cultural institutions, all to honour the memory of Hallgrímsson who was born 200 years ago. Manitoba, being one of the key outposts of Icelandic language and culture outside of Iceland – was drawn into the enchanting enterprise. In a rewarding collaboration with committees on both sides of the Atlantic, the Department of Icelandic organized an event, setting the stage for a farm boy from Öxnadalur who later became one of Iceland’s most gifted natural scientists and in the minds of some, the best poet ever born on the island.
The Valley Group flew in from Iceland, an ensemble of highly gifted musicians, members of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and the Icelandic Opera, performing music inspired by Hallgrímsson’s poems, composed by one of Iceland’s most renowned composers Atli Heimir Sveinsson, who was also present. Rev. Stefan Jonasson, a Unitarian Universalist minister, historian and organizational development consultant, based in Winnipeg, and a true theologian, in that he appreciates the arts, gave a brief talk on Hallgrímsson’s life and legacy. Dr. Sveinn Yngvi Egilsson, an associate professor in Icelandic at the University of Iceland, co-editor of The Collected Works of Jónas Hallgrímsson (4 volumes, 1989) and the author of a book and a number of articles on nineteenth century romantic poetry, also gave a talk on Hallgrimsson’s poetry. Last but not least, David Gislason, the farmer, poet and translator from New Iceland, recited his English translation of Hallgrímsson’s poem Ferðalok, or Journey’s End.
Photos courtesy of the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba, photographer Linda F. Sigurdson Collette
Back row from left:
1. Rev. Stefan Jonasson 2. Sigrún Eðvaldsdóttir, violin, concert master of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra 3. Dr. Sveinn Yngvi Egilsson 4. Dr. Birna Bjarnadóttir 5. Anna Guðný Guðmundsdóttir, piano 6. Hávarður Tryggvason, double bass 7.Atli Heimir Sveinsson, composer 8. Sif Sigurðardóttir, Sveinsson´s wife 9. Sigurður Ingi Snorrason, clarinett, the "father" of the Valley Group.
Front row, from left:
1. Eyjólfur Eyjólfsson, tenor 2. Hulda Björk Garðarsdóttir, mezzosopran