Voices of Iceland: Male Choirs

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I have a riddle for you… What could possibly be more Icelandic than PUFFINS?

Blonde hair? … Nope.

Waterfalls? … Nope.

Skyr? … Nope.

Male choirs? BINGO!

Ok ok! Blonde hair, waterfalls and skyr are quintessentially Icelandic, but one of Iceland’s greatest hidden treasures is its choral music.

In the 1850s a progressive art collective thought it was important for the cultural expansion of the country to switch from singing old, chanted rhymes and “quintsong” (an oral folk practice of singing parallel fifths) to more modern arrangements.

However, a passionate group of university students disagreed with the notion of abandoning tradition as a form of progress. They saw great value in preserving the country’s ritual music. Within a short span of time a revival of folk music was born! The popularity of choirs exploded and dominated the country’s music-making.

Choirs became an embodiment of national pride and the nation’s struggle for political independence. Until 1918, women only sung in a handful of mixed choirs, mostly for special occasions (such as royal visits by the Danish king,) but now women’s choirs were spreading like wildfire.

Today, a significant portion of the population is involved in a choral music. For a population of 330,000 people, it’s astonishing that Iceland has nearly 300 active choirs.

On our recent pilgrimage we were lucky to hear some of Iceland’s finest male farmers perform for us. Click the video below to hear their heavenly voices…

Watch the video below & enjoy the conversation!

Now, I’d like to hear from YOU.

What kind of music inspires YOU? Have you ever been moved to tears by a song you love at a crucial moment?

Join the conversation by leaving a comment below. Many beautiful people like you come here for inspiration. Your story may help someone else have an important insight.

Thank you for showing up and sharing your heart in these conversations. Hearing your stories means so much to me.

If you have a friend or colleague that would enjoy watching this video, please share it with them!


1 Comment Add a Comment

  • Lena Madry

    Thank you Nina! It was great to hear these fellows again! It definitely was the highlight of that evening! Such pride and passion in their voices despite not understanding a word they were singing. Music and song certainly transcend and touch the soul.


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