This winter, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts presents the Nordic Cool Festival, a month-long event highlighting the culture and heritage of the Nordic countries—Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden—as well as Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and the Åland Islands. The international celebration features traditional and contemporary expressions of theater, dance, music, visual arts, literature, design, film, and cuisine. The event should be a great way to learn about Nordic life with themes such as nature, technological innovation, environmental sustainability, entrepreneurial spirit, and youth culture.
The Nordic Cool Festival will feature more than 700 artists from the Nordic countries in dozens of events taking place in and around the Kennedy Center. Many of the Nordic countries will also feature events at their embassies in Washington, DC.
While some events are free, many require tickets. Prices range from free to $100.
The Kennedy Center is located at 2700 F. St. NW, Washington, DC near the Foggy Bottom/George Washington Univ. Metro Station. See a map and directions.
For the complete schedule of events and to purchase tickets, visit www.kennedy-center.org/nordiccool.
Free Events on Millennium Stage (in order by date)
- Gustaf Sjökvist’s Chamber Choir (Sweden)
February 19, 2013 at 6pm
Founded in 1994, the 33-member choir has been a very active part of Swedish musical life, presenting performances throughout the country as well as touring internationally to the United States, Hong Kong, and Germany. Their repertoire consists mainly of contemporary Swedish classical music by such composers as Sven-David Sandström, Lars Edlund, Jan Sandström, Carl Unander-Scharin, Georg Riedel, and Bo Holten.
- Tango-orkesteri Unto (Finland)
February 20, 2013 at 6pm
Founded in 1998 to promote Finnish tango at EXPO98 in Lisbon, the band has performed in several countries, including sold-out concerts in Vienna at the Jeunesse Festival (2009), at the FolkBaltica Festival in Germany (2007), at an event dedicated to Finnish tango at the City of London Festival (2009), and in Stockholm and Frankfurt (2011).
- Gaup Sisters (Norway)
February 21, 2013 at 6pm
Sara Marielle, Risten Anine, and Inger Biret Gaup—Sami sisters from Kautokeino in the north of Norway—have been practicing joik, one of the traditional forms of song of the Sami people, since early childhood. Taught by their father and other relatives, they are now passing down the techniques of joik to the next generation through workshops and classes. Sara Marielle is a member of the critically acclaimed band Adjágas that combines traditional joik with modern instruments.
- Ibrahim Electric (Denmark)
February 22, 2013 at 6pm
Ibrahim Electric is an eclectic, jazz-based trio from Copenhagen, Denmark. Band members Niclas Knudsen, Stefan Pasborg, and Jeppe Tuxen create experimental music that draws from a wide variety of genres, including jazz, pop, afro, and funk. They have released six CDs, including two live recordings with trombonist Ray Anderson, and amassed critical acclaim from music aficionados around the world.
- Kroumata (Sweden)
February 23, 2013 at 6pm
With more than 30 years of unparalleled performances, Kroumata has brought percussion from the back row of the orchestra to center stage. The group's extensive repertoire includes works by composers as diverse as Sofia Gubaidulina, John Cage, Iannis Xenakis, Hanna Hartman, André Chini, Steve Reich, Toru Takemitsu, and Sven David Sandström.
- Iceland Airwaves (Iceland)
February 24, 2013 at 6pm
Since the first edition was held in an airplane hangar 1999, Iceland Airwaves has become one of the premier annual showcases for new music—Icelandic and otherwise—in the world. Iceland Airwaves will present three bands—FM Belfast, Retro Stefson, and Sóley—in an extended Millennium Stage performance.
- New Nordic Cuisine Demonstration: Finland & Iceland
Chef Petteri Luoto (Finland) and Chef Hákon Már Örvarsson (Iceland)
February 25, 2013 at 6pm
Join award-winning chefs Petteri Luoto of Finland and Hákon Már Örvarsson of Iceland for a demonstration of New Nordic Cuisine. Winner of the Chef of the Year in Finland (1998), Luoto is known for brave combinations, presenting traditional Finnish flavors with a modern twist—to blend in tastes of other cultures, while keeping the base strongly Scandinavian. Hákon Már Örvarsson has worked in such Reykjavik restaurants as Hótel Holt, Nordica Hotel and VOX Restaurant. He is committed to using organic ingredients and to preparing freshly-made dishes based on the principles of Icelandic cooking.
- Signmark (Finland)
February 26, 2013 at 6pm
Leaping onto the international stage when asked to represent Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2006, Signmark became the first deaf person to be signed to a major international recording label. Strong bass beats with low frequencies help Signmark adapt to rap and hip hop rhythms and vocalist Brandon Bauer joins Signmark on his albums, videos, and performances. This bilingual performance will be performed with American Sign Language.
- Eivør (Faroe Islands)
February 27, 2013 at 6pm
Eivør is a Faroese singer/songwriter with a distinct voice who grew up in Gøta, a little village in the remote Faroe Islands. While her roots are in Faroese ballads, she has a wide range of interests in many kinds of music from rock, jazz, folk, pop, to European classical music.
- Skaran (Sweden)
February 28, 2013 at 6pm
Folk trio Skaran plays Swedish traditional tunes along with its own compositions bursting with attitude and joy. Emilia Amper is one of the leading players of the nyckelharpa, or “keyed fiddle”, a traditional Swedish instrument. She won the 2010 Nyckelharpa World Championship and the Spellemannsprisen (the Norwegian Grammy) in 2011. Cellist Jonas Bleckman has rapidly established himself on the Scandinavian folk scene as well as in other genres like pop/rock, jazz, covers, and world music. Originally from Brittany, France, Anna Roussel is a wooden flute player and composer of Breton, Irish, and Swedish folk music.
- Unni Løvlid (Norway)
March 1, 2013 at 6pm
Singer/Songwriter Unni Løvlid from Hornindal in west Norway ranks among the most highly respected folk musicians in Norway. She has received a number of awards for her contributions to folk singing, and she was voted 2006 “Traditional Musician of the Year” in Norway. In addition to her career as a solo performer, Unni is a member of the trio RUSK with Frode Haltli and Vegar Vårdal.
- Game Design: Behind the Screen
March 2, 2013 at 6pm
Join Kristoffer Touborg, lead designer behind the popular computer game EVE-Online at Iceland’s CCP Games and Saku Lehtinen, Art Director at Remedy Entertainment in Finland, a developer of state-of-the-art action games including the Max Payne series, Death Rally, and their latest creation, the psychological action thriller Alan Wake, as they speak about the creative process behind some of the most popular online games today. Visuals from their games will be displayed on the Millennium Stage’s large format screen during the event.
- New Nordic Cuisine Demonstration: Denmark, Norway, & Sweden
March 3, 2013 at 6pm
Join award-winning chefs Mads Refslund of Denmark, Morten Sohlberg of Norway, and Ulrika Bengtsson of Sweden for a demonstration of New Nordic Cuisine. Audience members will be able to watch the cooking unfold in person and on large screens in the Grand Foyer.
- Rasmus Lyberth (Greenland) and Greta Sundström (Åland Islands)
March 4, 2013 at 6pm
Singer/songwriter Rasmus Lyberth has captivated Danish and Greenlandic audiences since the 1970s and is increasingly popular with international audiences. Accordion virtuoso Greta Sundström is master of a vast repertoire ranging from classical pieces to folk music and dance-friendly pop tunes.
- Duo Harpverk (Iceland)
March 5, 2013 at 6pm
Duo Harpverk was formed by harpist Katie Buckley and percussionist Frank Aarnink with the aim to commission and perform music for harp and percussion, focusing especially on the work of young composers. To date, they have commissioned more than 40 pieces from composers in Iceland, Denmark, England, Australia, and the United States.
- Sousou & Maher Cissoko (Sweden and Senegal)
March 6, 2013 at 6pm
Swedish/Senegalese couple Sousou & Maher Cissoko share a destiny shaped by music. Sousou grew up in southern Sweden and fell in love with the kora, a western African stringed instrument, when her father started playing with the Gambian griot Alagie Mbye in the early 1990s. Maher Cissoko was born into a well-known griot family from Casamance, Senegal, and learned to play the kora at an early age. Winners of the “Best Newcomer” prize at the 2010 Swedish Folk and World Music Gala and “Band of the Year” in 2011, the group’s music combines a variety of styles, influences, and techniques taken from diverse backgrounds and travels.
- Nanook (Greenland)
March 7, 2013 at 6pm
Nanook immediately became one of the best-known bands in Greenland with the release of their debut album Seqinitta Qinngorpaatit (Our Sun is Shining on You) in 2009. The group now tours internationally and is quickly gathering new fans despite the fact that their songs are sung entirely in Greenlandic. Nanook's songs have been featured in the Discovery Channel’s series Flying Wild Alaska.
- Danish National Girls’ Choir (Denmark)
March 8, 2013 at 6pm
Since its founding in 1938, the choir has been synonymous with Danish song and the pure Nordic sound. Each year the choir sings more than 60 concerts in Denmark and is considered one of the best girls’ choirs in the world. This elite ensemble combines old song traditions with new music, always working to develop the choir tradition exploring the special sound of young girls’ voices.
- Wimme (Finland)
March 9, 2013 at 6pm
Sami joik singer Wimme Saari's music has been described as “shamanistic chant meets modern soundscapes.” Joik has certain elements in common with Native American music, most importantly a reverence for the earth and the elements. Saari combines traditional joik elements with original improvisations. He has contributed his unique voice to albums by artists such as Hector Zazou, Hedningarna, Nits, and RinneRadio, and has also collaborated with Italian composer Aldo Brizzi.
Embassy EventsThe embassies of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden are planning several of their own events during Nordic Cool 2013. Visit the following websites for additional information:
- Embassy of Denmark: www.usa.um.dk
- Embassy of Finland: www.finland.org
- Embassy of Iceland: www.iceland.is/iceland-abroad/us
- Embassy of Norway: www.norway.org
- Embassy of Sweden: http://www.swedenabroad.com/washington
Exhibitions throughout the Kennedy Center
- Northern Lights
The façade of the Kennedy Center
Nightly from 5:30 to 11pm
Jesper Kongshaug, Denmark’s most innovative lighting designer, will recreate the effect of the Northern Lights on all four sides of the Kennedy Center’s façade, bringing the effects of the famed aurora borealis to Washington, DC.
- New Nordic—Architecture and Identity
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Denmark)
Atrium and Kennedy Center grounds
The exhibit highlights architecture’s relationship with culture and identity, exploring whether or not certain specifically ‘Nordic’ features appear in architecture and, if so, how these manifest. Two segments of the larger exhibit will be on display at the Kennedy Center during Nordic Cool 2013.
- Nobel Prize
Learn about the Nobel Prize, its founder, the Laureates, and their endeavors. This exhibition will highlight laureates from all prize fields: Physics, Chemistry, Literature, Economic Sciences, Physiology, and of course, the Nobel Peace Prize.
Hall of Nations
Plywood is one of the oldest mass produced products in the world and is one of the most used products in Nordic design, from moulded to tensioned, from furniture to houses. This exhibition, created by famed Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta, will feature large-scale plywood sculptures.
- Archive – Endangered Waters
South Atrium Foyer
Multidisciplinary Icelandic artist Rúrí archives endangered waters in an interactive, multidisciplinary installation of 52 photographs of waterfalls taken on the banks of both muddy glacial torrents and clear mountain streams. The work encourages user interaction and then presents a strong visual and acoustic experience, with the photographs adding their magnificence to the tremendous sounds resonating through the space.
- Are We Still Afloat?
Kaarina Kaikkonen (Finland)
Hall of States
Kaarina Kaikkonen is one of Finland’s leading artists and is known internationally for her large scale, site-specific environmental installations made from simple recycled materials and domestic items such as clothing and paper. A thousand shirts belonging to people from Washington, DC, will be turned into a hanging sculpture taking the shape of a boat broken in two pieces.
Tróndur Patursson (Faroe Islands)
The Faroe Islands comprise 18 islands separated by narrow sounds or fjords, located in the North Atlantic Ocean. Animal life is characterized by the ever present sheep that outnumber the population, and the rich and varied bird life, especially seabirds, that attracts bird enthusiasts and ornithologists from all around the world. This exhibition features approximately 90 of Tróndur Patursson’s trademark stained glass birds.
- Elk Towers
Juha Pykäläinen (Åland Islands)
Kennedy Center grounds
Originally conceived for an exhibit at the Åland Art Museum in 2003, Juha Pykäläinen’s wooden sculptures of elk can now be found in more than 30 locations on the Åland Islands. They can be used as hunting towers or as environmental art to make the landscape fun and alive.
- Our World, Our Future: Youth Making a Difference through Creativity, Technology, and Art
All over the world, young people are putting their energy and creativity into projects and initiatives that are making big differences in their homes, schools, local communities, and beyond. The Kennedy Center has invited young people from the Nordic countries to submit video clips showing how they are making a difference in shaping a sustainable future. Selected clips will be shown in a special installation created for the festival.