60 seconds with… Árni Heimir Ingólfsson

Welcome to the first installation of our new feature ’60 Seconds with…’! Over the coming weeks we will be posting quick and quirky interviews with the people behind the music at the Winter Festival. There’s no hard and fast rule with what we ask – most questions come from members of the team – though if you’d like to contribute, leave your questions in the comments section. Enjoy!

This week, we spoke to Carmina director, Árni Heimir Ingólfsson.

Bach or Handel?
Bach. His music is a never-ending source of fascination, delight, and solace.

Morning or evening person?
I try to be a morning person. Really, I do.

Red or white (wine)?
Both! I used to enjoy red more, but lately I have begun to understand the appeal of a good Sauvignon blanc.

What’s your favourite venue to perform in?
Carmina’s first concert was in Skálholt Cathedral in southern Iceland, and we have returned many times since. It has a lovely acoustic and the place itself is quite magical.

What’s the strangest think you’ve read about yourself?
Nico Muhly once blogged about the time I played harpsichord for his album, Mothertongue. He had found a rather chic-looking photo of me on the internet which he duly posted on his blog along with the following comment: “I only have this outrageous glamour shot of Árni and I’m sure he will never forgive me for posting it but such is the way in which the ice-wafer crumbleth.” Nico was, of course, forgiven.

What did you want to be when you were at school?
I remember a period when I was around 14 years old when I really wanted to become a composer. I did write a few pieces, all of them fairly awful, and quickly realized that I could lead a far more fulfilling life performing all the wonderful music that already exists.

What’s the most played track from your MP3 player/CD collection?
Mouth’s Cradle, from Björk’s Medúlla. A close second is Bach’s 8-part motet, Singet dem Herrn, in a deliciously alert performance by Trinity Baroque.

Do you have a favourite piece or repertoire to perform, if so what?
Some of the most enjoyable moments in my life have been singing Renaissance polyphony. I’m very fond of British composers of that period, above all William Byrd. I also try to play some Bach and Mozart on the piano daily so that my fingers don’t get too lazy.

Why did you want to take part in the Winter Festival?
It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to bring to our programme to London. I have spent quite a bit of time in England in the past few years, including a stint at Oxford as a British Academy fellow, but have actually never performed in England until now.

What inspires you?
Mountains. Hiking in the Icelandic mountains on a beautiful summer’s day gives me enough inspiration to last the whole year – at least!

Árni and Carmina will be performing in ‘An Icelandic Songbook‘, click here to book tickets.

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