Tag Archives: music

Icelander Víkingur Ólafsson Wows Toronto

Those of us who were able to sneak away last week for a lunchtime musical interlude were treated to a recital by Víkingur Ólafsson, Iceland’s award-winning rising star pianist. ‘The Idea of the North‘ was part of a season of free concerts and dance events at Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.

Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson

Víkingur Ólafsson at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto.  Photo by Stephanie Calvet.

The piano virtuoso made his Toronto debut performing folk songs from his native Iceland. He also paid tribute to one of his great inspirations, legendary Toronto pianist Glenn Gould, in a performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

As a small child, Ólafsson trained his ear by listening in on his parents’ music lessons at home. He learned to play piano before he learned to speak.

Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson-2

Víkingur Ólafsson. Photo by Stephanie Calvet.


Víkingur Ólafsson in his native Iceland. Photo courtesy of the artist.

At just 30, the young pianist displays an immense talent. Outside the concert stage, Víkingur is the driving force behind numerous innovative musical projects – a television series, Útúrdúr (roughly translated as Out-of-tune); the Reykjavík Midsummer Music festival at the Harpa Concert Hall; and, his own record label, Dirrindí.

He is wrapping up a cross-Canada tour and his busy schedule has him hopping across the globe. Catch him if you can! In the meantime, have a listen to this sampling.

Artists from around the world share their talent and passion in six series –vocal, piano, jazz, dance, chamber and world music against an ever-changing city backdrop seen from the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre. For more information on the Canadian Opera Company’s Free Concert Series, see here.

Berlin’s Music and Lifestyle Hotel

The nhow Berlin is a music and lifestyle hotel by architect Sergei Tchoban on the banks of the river Spree. With the eccentric Karim Rashid behind the interior design, it’s a place where colour and sound come together and a breeding ground for creative energy, or at least that’s the concept behind it. I heard little buzz and saw little action when I visited.

Fitting for a city at the cutting edge of the global music scene, Europe’s first music hotel is intended to be a “revolutionary new model of living and lodging.” Certainly Rashid’s use of psychedelic colour does a lot to set it apart from the others within the NH chain. The lobby itself has a lot of furniture types going on – very slick and trendy; seems to me they’ll be dated before long. But I suppose that’s part of the big idea. With changing artwork and multi-media installations, the interior is in a permanent state of flux, and in stark contrast to the austere, industrial exterior of the building. Although dynamic and rounded lines pervade the space and the furnishings, I didn’t find much alluding to music in the architecture itself, at least on the main floor, and while the building has a state-of-the-art sound system, the acoustics weren’t exceptional there. The branding and marketing materials, however, are great – for one, brochures are designed to look like vinyls. The hotel offers ‘guitar’ room service and has an integrated high-end recording studio overlooking the city. Perhaps next time I’ll get to experience the hotel rooms and a concert or two on the terraces… (Note: Rashid seems to be in his element here. I saw the rockstar DJing at a party in SoHo.)

The nhow is located within the creative districts of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, near the historic Oberbaumbrücke (bridge) and the 30m tall, symbolic ‘Molecule Man’ aluminium sculpture on the river that had marked the division between East and West Berlin.

The nhow Berlin is located at Stralauer Allee 3. 10245 Berlin, Germany.