Icelandic Communities Association of North Dakota hosted a very special evening of entertainment on Wednesday, June 15 at the Mountain Community Center.
The evening began with the Jón Sigurðsson Play written and directed by Sveinn Einarsson.
Award winning actor, Arnar Jónsson of the Icelandic National Theater played the elder statesman, Jón Sigurðsson who was the first Icelandic patriot to petition for Iceland’s independence from Denmark in the mid 1800s. Hilmar Guðjónsson of the Reykjavík City Theater played the part of the 22-year-old Jón Sigurðsson as a student in Denmark where his interest in politics and work for Icelandic independence began. Their conversations back and forth told the story of the work of Jón Sigurðsson through the years. When Iceland finally gained independence in 1944, Jón Sigurðsson’s birthday, June 17 was chosen as the day to celebrate.
Following the play, a remarkable concert by the Bústaðakirkju Kor (choir) from Reykjavík with Conductor Jonas Þórir thrilled the crowd with their beautiful voices and special soloists.
Members of the group toured the area earlier Wednesday stopping at the Icelandic State Park, the Stephan G. Stephanson home site, Gardar Pioneer Church, Thingvalla Lutheran Church Memorial site, Borg Memorial Home and Vikur Lutheran Church. They left Mountain after the concert and were scheduled to perform the play and concert in Winnipeg on June 17, in honor of the 200th birthday of Jón Sigurðsson.
Manitoba celebrates first official Jon Sigurdsson Day
During Winnipeg’s annual celebration of Iceland’s Independence Day, Greg Selinger, Premier of Manitoba, and Peter Bjornson, MLA for Gimli, presented a framed copy of the Proclamation of Jon Sigurdsson Day to Ingrid Slobodian, President of the Jon Sigurdsson Chapter IODE. The proclamation was enacted during the June 17, 2010 celebrations.
The First Jon Sigurdsson Day began with the Bústaðakirkju Kór under the direction of Jónas Þórir performing on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature.
To the strains of Oxar við Ana played by Jón Reynisson and sung by the Bústaðakirkju Kór, Fjallkona Vi Bjarnason Hilton, escorted by Tim Arnason and flagbearers, Kiera Hilton and Rachelle Bourget, led the procession from the Legislature steps to the Jón Sigurdsson statue on the north east corner of the Legislature grounds.
Following the national anthems of Canada and Iceland led by the Bstaðakirkju Kór, Ingrid Slobodian introduced the dignitaries: the Honourable Philip S. Lee C.M O.M the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, the Honourable Greg Selinger, Premier of Manitoba, Atli Ásmundsson, Consul General of Iceland, Grant Nordman, Councillor of the City of Winnipeg and Peter Bjornson, MLA for Gimli.
Peter Bjornson read the Proclamation before presenting the framed copy to Ingrid Slobodian.
Ambassador Svavar Gestsson served as Consul General for Iceland in Manitoba from 1999 to 2001, opening up Iceland’s first diplomatic office in Canada. During his tenure here, he spearheaded the Millennium Events Program in Canada consisting of several hundred events all over the country.
In his address, he reflected on his time spent in Canada and, to the appreciation of the audience, he mentioned his friendship with Neil Bardal, who always played an integral part in June 17 festivities by simply saying, “Neil, I miss you.”
Fjallkona Vi Bjarnason Hilton, assisted by Tim Arnason, laid a wreath at the statue of Jón Sigurðsson, and then gave the final address of the evening. The audience of approximately 400 was invited to proceed to the Winnipeg Art Gallery Concert Hall to attend the Gala concert.
Gala Concert marks Jon Sigurdsson Day
Ron Johnson, president of the Icelandic Canadian Frón, welcomed a full house at the Winnipeg Art Gallery for the Gala Concert celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson. This was the first official celebration of Jon Sigurdsson Day, which will now be held annually in Manitoba on June 17.
Peter John [PJ] Buchan delighted the audience with his interpretation of a few of his favorite pieces. Accompanied by Michael McKay, PJ sang Þú eina hjartans yndið mitt, Söknuður and Sjá dagar koma, setting the ambiance for the evening.
Sveinn Einarsson, director of Jon Sigurdsson Play, reminisced about his previous tour of the New Iceland communites in 1975. He did not hesitate when he was asked to write a play honouring Jón Sigurðsson that would be presented for the newly proclaimed Jon Sigurdsson Day, he said. The play featured Arnar Jónsson portraying Jón in his maturity and Hilmar Guðjónsson as Jón in his early adulthood. The play develops an interaction between Jón the elder and Jón the younger as they explore this unexpected situation. At times Jón the younger appears to have the advantage, due to his knowledge of history, but Jón the elder has the clarity of wisdom due to experience.
Ron Johnson and Ingrid Slobodian, President of the Jon Sigurdsson Chapter IODE presented Peter Bjornson, MLA fo Gimli, with a glass plaque recognizing his efforts toward the proclamation of June 17 as the official Jon Sigurdsson Day in Manitoba. Peter demonstrated his preferred posture whenever he rose in the Legislative Assembly by standing erect with hands clasping his lapels in the manner of the statue of Jon Sigurdsson on the Legislative grounds.
Conductor and accompanist, Jónas Þorir introduced the Bústaðakirkju Kór from Hafnarfjörður, Ísland who presented a multilingual program in Icelandic, English, Italian and Spanish. They opened with Þó þú langförull legðir written by Stefán G. Stefánsson/Sigvaldi Kaldalóns, and featuring tenor Jóhann Valdimarsson and the choir. Baritone Sæberg Sigurðsson and the choir presented an unusual and stirring arrangement of Á sprengisandi to the accordian accompaniment of Jón Reynisson. Among some of the favorites were a soft, loving rendition of Sofðu unga ástin mín, the familiar Draumalandið by mezzosoprano Anna Helgadóttir, the haunting Nú andar suðrið, the beautiful Ave Maria by soprano Gréta Hergils. Jón Reynisson soloed with Harmonikkuleikur on his chromatic button accordion.
Minnesota celebrates Independence Day
The Icelandic Hekla Club and The Icelandic American Association of Minnesota come together to celebrate Icelandic Independence Day at Bryant Lake Park. Icelandic Barbecue Chefs provide the main dish, while atendees all bring their favourite foods, including some Icelandic treats, The gathering is for all ages. Lunch is followed with time to catch up with friends, learn about Iceland, boat, swim, play volleyball and other activities.
Toronto celebrates twice
Toronto’s ICCT celebrated June 17 at Dufferin Grove Park. The Icelandic band Miri was there, local musician Lindy sang, Birgitta Jónsdóttir, and Icelandic parliamentarian made a surprise appearance after speaking at the New Ideas Conference.
Two days later, Rick Lindal hosted a picnic at his home near Grafton, ON.
Svavar Guðjónsson, counter tenor and Krístin M. Jakobsdóttir, bassoonist, musicians from Iceland provided a one-hour program on the history of Icelandic music, accompanied by local musicians.