Video Premiere: Siggi String Quartet Performs Una Sveinbjarnardóttir’s Opacity

Today’s video premiere features Siggi String Quartet (Una Sveinbjarnardóttir, violin; Helga Þóra Björgvinsdóttir, violin; Þórunn Ósk Marínósdóttir, viola; and Sigurður Bjarki Gunnarsson, cello) performing the eponymous movement of Una’s Opacity from Siggi’s recently released album South of the Circle.

South of the Circle is the debut album from the quartet, featuring works by Daníel Bjarnason, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Mamiko Dís Ragnarsdóttir, Haukur Tómasson, and Siggi’s own Una Sveinbjarnardóttir.

Video artist Koyano Takahiro says, “The music of Opacity craves for drama and poetry. The story behind it is shown with space and contrasting light. The material was mostly shot in the east of Iceland.”

Here’s what Una had to say about her composition:

Opacity is an experiment in which I wrote movement-long solos for each instrument of the Siggi String Quartet. Solos in the string quartet repertoire are traditionally short and travel between the voices quite frequently. Here, I tried to expand the idea of the individual solo and the result is Opacity, four movements representing each instruments of the string quartet. The first movement, “More,” belongs to the second violin. The second, “Opacity,” is a cello solo; the third, “Elegia,” a viola lament; and the last movement, “Less,” is partly improvised by the first violin.

“Opacity” is a movement-long solo in which the insistent cello meets the three other instruments in a dramatic middle section. It has a dark undertone, which Takahiro has grasped magically in this video.

South of the Circle is out now on Sono Luminus, and you can purchase the album here.

About Siggi String Quartet

Siggi String Quartet was founded in 2012 during the Young Scandinavian Composers festival in Reykjavik. The quartet has actively collaborated with today’s composers and commissioned and premiered numerous new works. Siggi Quartet’s repertoire extends from the Renaissance through the Classical masters. Its members have great passion for 20th and 21st Century repertoire. In 2017, the group recorded the music of Philip Glass with prize-winning pianist Víkingur Ólafsson for Deutsche Grammophon. For this recording the quartet was branded “superb” by Gramophone Magazine and “top-notch” by National Public Radio. Siggi String Quartet received the Icelandic Music Prize for Performer of the Year in 2018 and is a frequent performer at Nordic Music Days and Dark Music Days Reykjavík.

About Una Sveinbjarnardóttir

Una Sveinbjarnardóttir is a violinist/composer and founding member of Siggi String Quartet. She has worked closely with Björk (Homogenic, Vulnicura) and composers Atli Heimir Sveinsson and Jóhann Jóhannsson. Her acclaimed album Umleikis with a selection of her compositions for solo violin was released in 2012. Recent works include Vögguvísa 1, (Lullaby 1) for mezzo-soprano and chamber ensemble, Loss for soprano and violin (2018) and Gátt for cimbalom and harp (2017) as well as theater music to Doll House Part 2 (Reykjavik City Theater 2018). In her projects, Una uses her Hardanger fiddle and Chinese viola as well as her Camilli violin. Una scored Konur á rauðum sokkum (Women in Red Stockings), a documentary on the Women’s Rights Movement in Iceland directed by Halla Kristín Einarsdóttir. Una is concertmaster of Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra and was nominated for the Iceland Music Awards as a solo performer in 2018.

About Koyano Takahiro

Koyano Takahiro is a Japanese visual artist making works with projector, photo negative films, lighting equipment and sound. He began his career as an artist recently and now creates works in Iceland and Japan. These include this video for OPACITY, performed by the Siggi String Quartet, and his first exhibition which will be held this October in Tokyo.