Peter Johnson, Proud Icelandic Winnipegger (CBC)
"Iceland has more chess Grand Masters than Canada even though it has only 1% of Canada’s population."
The WSO New Music Festival kicks off Saturday January 28. True to the festival's Nordic theme, five brilliant Icelandic composers will be featured during the festival which runs until February 3.
Winnipeg composer Matthew Patton believes that Kjartan Sveinsson, Daniel Bjarnason, Valgeir Sigurdsson, Atli Heimir Sveinsson and Johann Johannsson are part of a critical mass of genius developing in the land of fire and ice that is creating a new paradigm in the world of classical music.
That statement might surprise many people. Not Icelanders. Not even West Icelanders, those of us North Americans who trace our heritage to Iceland. Here are some points about Iceland that aren't common knowledge.
Iceland was the first country to record it's own beginnings. It was a Viking society which decided in the year 930 that to prevent bloodshed it must live by the rule of law and create what has become the longest continuous parliamentary system in the history of the world. Thingvellir was formed 285 years before the signing of the Magna Carta.
Iceland has the highest per capita rate of publication in the world.
Icelanders created a unique genre of literature, the Icelandic Saga. Almost all of the Sagas were written in the vernacular (Icelandic) more than one hundred years before the birth of Dante Alighieri.
Tiny Iceland produced a nobel Laureate in literature, Halldor Laxness.
We love telling our Norwegian cousins that they would not know their own history if it were not for Snorri's Heimskringla. Snorri's Prose Edda contributed significantly to our knowledge of the pre-Christian beliefs of northern Europeans.
Icelandic navigators arrived in North America five hundred years before Columbus.
It was tiny Iceland who fought the two Cod Wars to extend the limit of territorial waters first from two miles to twelve, then from twelve miles to two hundred miles.
Iceland has more chess Grand Masters than Canada even though it has only 1% of Canada's population.
Iceland has won the World's Strongest Man Competition eight times, more than any other country. The United States is second with seven wins. Iceland has only .1% of the population of the United States.
Obviously West Icelanders are proud of our heritage and we are proud of the five Icelandic composers featured in this years New Music Festival. We are also proud of our Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.
Peter Johnson is the Fundraising Chair for Logberg-Heimskringla, Winnipeg's Icelandic newspaper. He is also a proud Icelandic Winnipegger.
You can hear Peter Johnson on SCENE On Air Saturday January 28 between 5 - 6 p.m. with host Ismaila Alfa.
This content is provided by Peter Johnson. The views expressed do not express the views of CBC. CBC is not responsible for this content.