‘Echoes of the Ages’ profiled the 43-year career of the Icelandic violin maker, who has made over 300 instruments 

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A festival dedicated to the work of Icelandic luthier Hans Jóhannsson concluded on Sunday 15 October with a concert at the Harpa concert hall in Reykjavík. The festival is thought to be the first of its kind dedicated to a living violin maker.

The concert brought together 27 instruments made by Jóhannsson in a performance of Strauss’s Metamorphosen as well as two new works by Maria Huld Markan and Ulfur Hansson. It marked the conclusion of the 14-day event, which included an exhibition of Jóhannsson’s instruments as well as drawings, varnish materials and aspects of Icelandic musical culture. A separate exhibition showcased Jóhannsson’s experimental works, which include electronically enhanced stringed instruments.

Separate concerts took place with violinist Sólveig Steinþórsdóttir, who plays on a 2011 Jóhannsson instrument, violinist Pétur Björnsson and cellist Bryndís Halla Gylfadóttir.

‘After all the years that I lived abroad, I am always surprised at how many amazing string players there are right here at home,’ said Jóhannsson. ‘Part of it is an excellent system of music schools for small children and of course the widespread general public’s interest in music and concerts in general, but there seems to be a tendency for classically trained musicians to cross musical and media boundaries. This is possibly because Iceland doesn´t have a long musical canon to adhere to and it might therefore be easier to break rules in a creative way.‘

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