Skálholt Summer Concerts is Iceland’s oldest summer music festival, founded in 1975 by harpsichordist Helga Ingólfsdóttir (1942-2009). During the first years of the festival, the focus was mostly on baroque music, but since 1978 new compositions have been premiered every year. At the moment the main emphasis of Skálholt Summer Concerts is on contemporary music and early music performed on period instruments. Both composers and performers are residents for a period of time for the festival events. The concerts are held in Skálholt Church which was built in the nineteen-sixties, at the oldest bishopric in Iceland dating from 1056.
The festival has access to convenient accommodation facilities for musicians, who in most cases stay there for a week at a time enjoying their work in good rehearsal rooms. Rehearsals also take place in the Church. Recently Skálholt Church received a generous donation from the legendary Dutch violinist Jaap Schröder who unfortunately past away in 2020, namely his collection of scores and books on Music and other Art, thereby commencing the foundation of a Music Library in Skálholt. Jaap Shröder was a dear friend of The Skálholt Summer Concerts and performed there annually for many years.
At Skálholt Summer Concerts you can experience public concerts, artist talks, family concerts and services the first two weeks in July. Also, a big part of the musical compositions commissioned over the years for the festival have become standard repertoire and have been performed internationally.
We highly recommend that you look up The Summer Concert site and more particularly the programme for the summer. Coming to Skálholt Summer Concerts is an extraordinary way to experience exquisite culture in unique settings, that history and nature provide.
Free entrance, donations welcome at the entrance. Enjoy.
Of music emerging from musical activities in Skálholt the most famous is probably “Heyr himna smiður” (Hear, you Smith of the Heavens) which was composed for the 10th anniversary of Skálholt Cathedral in 1973. It can be heard here in unusual surroundings.