This evening we headed up to Hallgrimskirkja, the concrete cathedral that dominates the Reykjavik hillside. Planned in the 20s, construction was begun in earnest after World War II. From the outside, it mimics the rock formations caused by glacial shift in the fjords.
Something like this:
In concrete like this:
Don’t see it? How about a close up:
The guidebooks described the inside as dullsville. No, no. It was lovely. Pristine and in nice contrast to the ragged, jagged outside.
With art (and not religious art):
We were there for an organ concert. The Hallgrimskirkja organ is the largest in Europe, boasting some 5000 pipes. Citizens around the nation sent in donations to get it built.
Throughout July, the cathedral (or the Prime Minister? Bjork? Maybe the whole nation sent out an evite?) brings in leading organists. Our performer was German, Winfried Bönig. And, boy, was he German. All in black, tight jeans, rad glasses.
Want to hear it? Wait for it…
Four pieces in total – Mozart, Bach, Liszt, Holst , with a Bach encore.
All ears, I also watched as the sun moved across the sky and across the interior of the cathedral towards me. I could very clearly see the gentleman in the first row with sweat pouring down from his temples throughout the Mozart and Bach. Folks were shielding their eyes with their programs. That sun is strong. It hit me during Mars of the four planet Holst piece being played. Knee, thigh, tip of my nose. By Jupiter, thank Roman gods, I was in the clear. Oddly enough, Venus and Mercury came in between. The sun is impressively fierce and I was angry at all the people in the other aisle, smiling happily while having their ear drums pounded. Did they all know? Were we on the dumbo tourist side? I think yes. Fair play, Icelandic organ concert lovers, fair play.