Choirmaster and Conductor: Hilmar Örn Agnarsson
Soloists: Tui Herv, Elisabet Einarsdóttir, Henrietta Ósk Gunnarsdóttir

Sir John Tavener gave the Chamber Choir of Southern Iceland the great honour of premiering his new compositions “Three Shakespeare Sonnets”, as well as directing choirmaster Agnarsson to create the definitive sound for his works. The premiere at Southwark Cathedral on the 15th November 2013 became an emotional memorial to the composer when he sadly passed away in the week preceding the concert.

The choir’s collaboration with Tavener dates back to the year 2004 when the SICC performed the first complete concert of the composer’s works in Iceland. That concert included the premier performance of the work “Schuon Hymnen”.

In November 2010 Tavener made his first visit to Iceland to attend the launch concert for “Iepo Oneipo”. The record was chosen as CD of the month by Gramophone magazine in October 2010 and was nominated for the best album award in the contemporary and classical music category of the 2011 Icelandic Music Awards. The performance at Southwark realised the culmination of almost a decade of collaboration and provided a unique opportunity to experience Tavener’s work performed by a choir selected by the composer himself.

“The Three Shakespeare Sonnets was one of the first works that I composed after my serious illness in 2007. I wanted to pay tribute to my wife, Maryanna, who nursed me back to some degree of health, so I turned to the Shakespeare Sonnets and was delighted to find that they brought forth music once again, after having been silent for so long.” - Sir John Tavener (1944-2013)

Sonnet XVIII
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date: Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d; But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

Sir John Tavener (1944-2013)
The South Iceland Chamber Choir enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Sir John Tavener.
In 2004 they gave the first complete concert of the composer’s works in Iceland which included the premiere of Schuon Hymnen commissioned by the choir. In 2010 Tavener made his first visit to Iceland to attend the premiere of Iepo Oneipo, also performed by the SICC, the recording of which received rave reviews in the UK and Iceland. Tavener was one of the best known and regarded composers of his generation.

In his pursuit of creating a “window of sound to the divine world”, Tavener explored religious traditions from Orthodox Christianity, Hinduism and Islam. His many works have been performed worldwide and his connection to Iceland also includes a piece written for and performed by Björk in 2004.

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