The excellent Saga Musica Show - the Icelandic Sagas portrayed in Songs
Seeing that I am always writing about the Vikings and the Sagas then I could not give a new show a miss - the Saga Musica - where the Icelandic Sagas are beautifully portrayed in songs by very talented musicians.
The auteur and the producer of the show are well known in the Icelandic Music and Culture scene - Valgeir Guðjónsson and his wife Ásta Kristrún Ragnarsdóttir. Valgeir is a household name in Iceland - he is a well-known singer, lyricist, film composer, and TV producer amongst many other things.
Valgeir is maybe best known for being a member of the popular bands Spilverk þjóðanna (1975-1979) and the ever so popular band Stuðmenn.
Top photo: Valgeir Guðjónsson musician
The band Stuðmenn is a legend here in Iceland and the film "Með allt á hreinu" or On Top, from 1982, is a blast! It can be said with certainty that it is Iceland's most-watched film and many Icelanders even know it by heart - I have watched it countless times and always watch it whenever I am feeling nostalgic and in the need of a good laugh.
Valgeir is also a novelist - back in 1993, I read a book he published that year called Tvær grímur or Two masks - a hilariously funny book :) I have been waiting for him ever since to publish another book.
So, what you can see from my eulogy then Valgeir is quite a famous character and by attending the Saga Musica, you will be listening to an Icelandic legend, which I admire greatly. Saga Musica is his dream project so you are in for a real treat.
Valgeir and the singer
The other performers accompanying Valgeir for the bigger venues of the Saga Musica show are:
The very talented singer Valgerður Guðnadóttir, who studied acting and classical singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. She is a well-known singer and actress and listening to her velvety voice is pure delight.
And the brilliant guitarist, Pétur Valgarð Pétursson, from Bíldudalur in the Westfjords of Iceland.
These artists sing about the Vikings, who searched for new territories in the 9th century in open Viking ships on the open ocean.
The Sagas are family sagas that give us insight into the life of the Vikings here in Iceland, during the Saga Age back in the 9th-11th century. These Sagas are real stories of love and betrayal, honour and revenge, and the endless lust for power.
Photo taken at the Culture House in Reykjavík - an old Icelandic manuscript
It is not known exactly who wrote the Sagas, but it is believed that the most influential Icelander, Snorri Sturluson, wrote one of the best-known Sagas - the Saga of Egill.
The 40 Icelandic Sagas were written and preserved on expensive calfskin - some of them got lost, and they might have been eaten during a famine in Iceland, which is a great loss, as these Sagas are pure gems.
Photo taken at the Saga Museum in Reykjavík - Hallveig, and Ingólfur
I would also recommend visiting the Saga Museum at Grandi in Reykjavík before attending the Saga Musica show, to get yourself better acquainted with the Icelandic Sagas and the Vikings. Thus you will be able to ask the performers questions after the show.
At the Saga museum, you will see beautifully made life-size wax figures of the most prominent Vikings and happenings in Iceland in early times. My photo above, which I took at the Saga Museum, shows Ingólfur Arnarson and his wife Hallveig, who have been called the first settlers of Iceland - they settled in Reykjavík.
Now, let's review the Saga songs, which I listened to in romantic settings by candlelight - some of the songs were nostalgic and bittersweet, others were heroic. One song told us the story of the Irish slaves, who were captured by the Vikings on their way to Iceland.
That song almost reduced me to tears, I had never before heard a song from the point of view of the Irish themselves. We learn at school that the Vikings took some Irish (mainly women) with them as slaves and thus our genes are both Norwegian and Celtic. There was not much emphasis put on our Irish origin back then.
My photo below is from one of my visits to the Saga Museum and shows Melkorka Mýrkjartansdóttir, the Irish princess, who was bought as a slave by Höskuldur Dala-Kollsson on his travels in Brännöarna (chapter 12 in Laxdæla).
Parts of Melkorka's story are told in the well-known Laxdæla Saga. It is believed that more than half the women in Iceland during the age of Settlement in my country were of Celtic origin!
Photo taken at the Saga Museum in Reykjavík - Melkorka and her son Ólafur pá
This beautiful song opened my eyes to the world of the Irish slaves, how terrified they must have been when the Vikings captured them and took them to a remote island in the north - and how terribly homesick they must have been. They were also our ancestors, but we tend to focus more on the Norwegian Vikings being our ancestors.
Another song focused on the Viking hero and the next one was a love song - it told us the love story of the son of a chieftain and a redhead with green eyes. How this young man fell head over heels in love with this young girl with golden red hair and such green eyes that this Viking could not get her out of his mind :)
The next song in line focused on the Poet, who was ordered to compose a flattering poem for a ruthless uncharming king. How was he to compose a poem for such a ruthless man - but the consequence of him not doing so would result in him losing his head!
Next came a song about the never-ending blood feud of the Vikings - revenge and blood feuds are a big part of the Sagas, where one Viking avenged his family and then another one avenged his family, and so on.
Then came the song about the storytellers, who told the same stories again and again for the legacies to be carried on. The song about the storyteller is called the Old man by the fire.
Next was the drinking song - but the Vikings were known for being quite efficient drinkers. It was the duty of every man and the sturdiest women to carry on drinking for 7 days and 7 nights - or so the story goes!
With Valgeir Guðjónsson and his wife Ásta Kristrún, a very lovely couple
The final song of this beautiful concert was another waiving of a ship from the shore - this time from the Celtic shore as several Celts also settled Iceland, some of which were Christians. This song is called the Wind song and is extraordinarily beautiful. Valgeir was also once a fisherman and sailed on a 30 meter's long sailboat from Norway to the British Isles.
When he wrote the Wind song he was influenced by his own sea voyage in an open boat, much like the Vikings sailed in open Viking ships. The song is a prayer by the Celts to the gods to guide their ship across the unknown waters. I am still humming these lines to myself: "Listen to the wind song, see the water break, carry us, carry us far away. Guide our ship across these waters". It is quite a sentimental song, which made my eyes water.
The show is in English, but it is for us locals as well as for our foreign guests - seeing that the Sagas are our heritage.
Lovely colourful Eyrarbakki
The show is pre-booked for groups and lasts for some 50 minutes. You can contact Bakkastofa Culture House in Eyrarbakki village in South-Iceland, where Valgeir and Ásta live. Just send them an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an arrangement.
You can get a show at the home of the artists, which can fit groups of up to 16 people. For groups larger than 16, the show can be held in 3 other possible venues in the lovely Eyrarbakki village.
I met Valgeir Guðjónsson in Eyrarbakkakirkja church
Ásta and Valgeir are an extremely nice couple, and I recommend paying them a visit.
I have written another travel-blog about the lovely Eyrarbakki village, where you can see quaint little colourful houses by the sea-shore and visit Húsið - the House, which operates as a museum now.
The lovely little Village Eyrarbakki on the South Coast of Iceland & Húsið - the House
Have a lovely time in Iceland :)
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