Experience an unforgettable taste of Scandinavian artists in concert in Volvo Hall while enjoying our outdoor garden terrace this summer.
An alternative to the usual midtown “happy hour,” Scandinavian Summer Sessions presents an eclectic selection of musicians and repertoires, with refreshments from Smörgås Chef’s terrace cocktail bar.
Ögmundur Þór Jóhannesson
Icelandic guitarist Ögmundur Þór Jóhannesson brings classical guitar sounds from Iceland to New York. Highlights include Atli Heimir Sveinsson’s Veglaust haf (1989), Jón Ásgeirsson’s Eitt sinn fór ég yfir Rín, and Karórlína Eiríksdóttir’s Sónata (2005), among others.
Jóhannesson (b. Reykjavík, 1980) began to study the classical guitar at the age of 10, and finished his music studies in Iceland with honors in May 2000.
He studied privately with Arnaldur Arnarsson, Ricardo Jesús Gallén, Alex Garrobé, and Sadahiro Otani at the Escola Luthier d’arts musical in Barcelona, Spain from 2000-2002. In June 2008 Jóhannesson graduated from Mozarteum University in Salzburg, Austria. There, under the guidance of Marco Diaz-Tamayo, he finished his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree with honors. He currently studies with Carlo Marchione at the Maastricht Conservatory.
Jóhannesson has received various awards and recognitions and became a prizewinner in the Tokyo and Bangkok international guitar competitions in November 2011. He received the sought-after Icelandic Artist Salary Grant from the Icelandic government (2010), a grant from the Icelandic Rotary Movement (2009), Jean Pierre Jaquillat Institution in 2005, and 2 other artistic awards the same year from Iceland. In 2003 he won the second prize at the II International guitar competition “Agustin Barrios” in Lambesc, France. In 2001 he was a finalist at the VII International guitar competition Andres Segovia in Linares, Spain.
He currently lives in Berlin, Germany, where he works as a freelance musician, teaching at various institutes and performing regularly as a soloist and with chamber ensembles.
In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, between Iceland and Scotland, there is a cluster of 18 small islands called the Faroe Islands. This is where Guðrið Hansdóttir was born and raised. Her music is a Lilith Fair-worthy blend of chamber pop and perky folk-rock.
Hansdóttir started singing at an early age and possessed a strong interest in music. She loved going through her father’s vinyl records, discovering artists like Kate Bush, Dolly Parton, Jethro Tull, and Jimi Hendrix. Her father was a highly skilled guitar player on the Faroes and on her fourteenth birthday he taught her a few guitar chords. After that she started writing her own songs.
In 2007 Hansdóttir released her debut album Love is Dead, which featured old and new songs. It was well received by critics and the same year she won “Best Female Artist” at the Planet Awards (Faroese Music Awards). After her first album Hansdóttir performed in Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Germany with great success.
Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio
Born in Iceland in 1970 and an ex-patriot of Brooklyn, Sunna Gunnlaugs – who is equally influenced by such American pianists as Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, and Scandinavians like Bobo Stenson and Jon Balke – has found a way to make music to which people on both sides of the Atlantic can relate. Her own charming brand of romantic lyricism rides upon a driving American rhythm section, appealing to jazzers and non-jazzers alike. The 7 CDs she has released have consistently received critical praise over the years, and she has appeared in publications such as Jazzwise, JazzTimes, Downbeat, Jazz Podium, Concert, Stereo, Jazzman, Village Voice, Time Out New York, Swing Journal, All About Jazz, and The Washington Post.
Long Pair Bond, the new trio album by Gunnlaugs with fellow Icelander bassist Þorgrímur Jónsson and long-time cohort Scott McLemore on drums, marks her move home after spending over a decade in Brooklyn playing mostly in quartets with saxophonists like Tony Malaby, Loren Stillman, and Ohad Talmor. Here her disposition is clearly more Scandinavian. With the trio format comes more space and there is an overall serenity to the album, which, like her homeland, is disturbed from time to time by unbridled energy bubbling up under the surface.
The reviews for Long Pair Bond have been glowing. The Austrian jazz magazine Concerto gave it 5 stars, and the respected Japanese critic Hiroki Sugita named it February’s “CD of the Month” on Jazz Street. All About Jazz reviewed Long Pair Bond twice and the album even got a heart in the Belgium’s JazzMozaïek. It was also nominated at the Icelandic Music Awards.
Her show at Scandinavia House is part of a two week tour of the U.S., beginning in San Francisco and ending in Washington, D.C.
Her self-released second album, The Sky Is Opening (2009), quickly became the bestselling album on the Faroe Islands and was awarded the Faroese Planet Awards ”Album of the Year.”
Hansdóttir’s newest album Beyond the Grey was released June 2011.The album is filled with catchy folk songs, inspired by Faroese culture and the distinctive Faroese weather. Hansdóttir sings in both Faroese and English and often the two languages are mixed together in the same song. The album was released by German label Beste! Unterhaltung across Europe and was very well received by critics. After the album’s release, she moved to Reykjavík to take singing lessons and to further her musical career.
In the past few years Hansdóttir has performed in the U.S. and across Europe.
Eivind Opsvik Overseas
Eivind Opsvik Overseas Eivind Opsvik is a Norwegian musician who has been living in New York for over 10 years. His main instrument is the bass, but he also thoroughly enjoys experiments with recording and mixing; playing lap steel guitar, old organs, drums; and composing music.
He performs at Scandinavia House with Kenny Wollesen (drums), Jacob Sacks (piano and organ), and Brandon Seabrook (electric guitar).
Beyond his work with Overseas, Opsvik’s experimental orchestral pop collaboration with Aaron Jennings (Opsvik & Jennings) includes three well-received recordings, the latest being A Dream I Used to Remember (2009). Opsvik is also currently working on a solo album featuring the bass along with percussion, keyboards, and more, which he is recording in his basement studio and expects to release in early 2013 on Loyal Label.
As an ensemble member, Eivind Opsvik has lately been playing with bandleaders like Skúli Sverrisson, Nate Wooley, David Binney, Jeremy Udden, Mary Halvorson, Jesse Harris, Paul Motian, Tony Malaby, and Kris Davis.
Naja Rosa Danish songstress Naja Rosa Koppel’s vocals are soulful and pure. Full of life and often with a wink of humor, her strong, melodic songs take you from a rocking Saturday night to a bluesy Sunday afternoon.
Koppel was born into a musical family. Her parents, Annisette and Thomas Koppel, founders of the legendary Danish rock group The Savage Rose took her on the road before she was even born. Growing up in the south harbor of Copenhagen, she was singing and writing songs from an early age and went on to sing background vocals in The Savage Rose for almost a decade. As a part of the band, she also landed two of her own compositions on their 2008 Danish Music Award-nominated release, Universal Daughter, and wrapped a European tour with them in the fall of 2008.
In 2010 Koppel finished her debut album, Naja Rosa, in a little analog studio in Copenhagen. The record was mixed by renowned producer Bryce Goggin (Pavement, Nada Surf, Apples in Stereo) at his Trout Studio in Brooklyn.
After she took Denmark by storm with her debut album, Koppel managed to top even herself with the release of her second album The Place I Call Home in February 2012. Debuting on the Danish charts in the Top 5 and at number 1 on iTunes its first week, the album has proved to be an even greater success.
The Place I Call Home was recorded partly in Denmark with her band, and then with locals from small towns across the southern U.S. From Austin, Memphis, New Orleans, and Atlanta, Naja Rosa managed to record with musicians throughout the south such as the legendary New Orleans Blues singer Coco Robicheaux, Hot 8 Brass Band, Dustin Welch, and others.
She recently finished a spring tour in Scandinavia and now returns to the U.S. to do summer shows with her outstanding band.
Eivind Opsvik Overseas Aleksi Ranta (b. 1980) is a Finnish jazz and rock guitarist, composer, and teacher who studied music and music pedagogy at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, Oulu University of Applied Sciences, and Oulu Conservatory of Pop and Jazz. He has worked and studied with some of the most well-known names in the jazz scene of Finland, Sweden, and the U.S.
Currently Ranta works with his Finnish and international bands, Aleksi Ranta Group, Atmospheres, and The Lerois, and tours with other groups in Finland and abroad. He also composes music for the Comics in Concert shows that he performs with the comic artist Ville Ranta and the accordionist Niko Kumpuvaara.
Ranta began his musical journey at the age of four with the violin but changed his instrument to the guitar in his early teens. Later on, he found his way into progressive rock and more mainstream music. He played in the rock band The Black League, which released four albums with the original line-up. In addition, he played in Lotta Band’s debut, released in 2007. He started his jazz studies in 2002 and has worked as a freelancer musician in various pop, rock, and jazz groups, and as a guitar teacher at various music institutions. As a versatile guitarist and a composer, Ranta combines styles from classical, rock, and jazz, while honoring the roots of the American bebop tradition and aesthetic. Ranta has received several grants for his international collaboration with Swedish and German musicians and for his international work as a diverse musician.
Tuija Komi A flawless, ravishing voice from the Far North, Tuija Komi is a consummate jazz artist of engaging warmth and first-rate musicianship whose vocal expressiveness runs the gamut from unbridled excitement and fierce passion, to exquisite tenderness and beyond. With her exceptional vocal range and sophisticated timbre, Komi achieves not only a smooth, consistent tone but also a perfectly balanced buildup of dramatic suspense: she can deliver compelling renditions of everything from blues and soul ballads to a sultry tango.
Komi’s musical eloquence is offset by her stage presence: with charm and natural exuberance that enchants her listeners, she carries her audience through a spectrum of moods – each conveyed with deep sincerity. Her sparkling personality and endearing temperament lend her performances a light-hearted atmosphere that delights all those who seek to indulge in music for the heart and soul. For Komi, every tone holds vital importance; she fills her music with poetry and vibrant dynamics. A blazing jewel on the music scene – with a vast potential she has yet to explore.