The Southbank Centre in London will be hosting a programme filled with Nordic culture and events throughout 2017, called Nordic Matters.

The Nordic Matters festival will feature art and culture from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, as well as some of the more ‘hidden voices’ from Åland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. This is the first time that Southbank Centre has programmed a year-long festival dedicated to one region of the world and around a third of artists, authors and performers participating in events at Southbank Centre during 2017 will be from the Nordic region.

“The Nordic countries have long been at the forefront of social change, from championing young people’s rights to environmental concerns and gender equality, and their enlightened approach to culture and education chimes with Southbank Centre’s own belief in the power of the arts to transform lives.” – Jude Kelly CBE, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre

Particular emphasis will be placed on themes influenced by gender equality, and sustainability. These concepts will be explored culturally through an extensive programme of music, dance, theatre, literature, spoken word, design, visual art, talks and debates, fashion and food.

Here are some of the highlights of Nordic Matters

Outi Pieski’s Falling Shawls. Sami artist Outi Pieski transforms the foyers of the Royal Festival Hall, showing traditional shawl-making techniques from Scandinavia’s indigenous people and the struggle of Sami people. 13 January 2017 to the end of the year.

Falling Shawls by Outi Pieski

Falling Shawls by Outi Pieski

Other site installations include Morten Søndergaard’s Wall of Dreams, and North Sami Pavilion – an architectural collaboration with Umea University Sweden.

Adventures in Moominland. This is the first major UK exhibition devoted to The Moomins and the world of their creator, the Finnish author and artist Tove Jansson. 16 December 2016 to 23 April 2017.

Get cosy and crafty with hygge. This is a cosy afternoon for trying new things and meeting new friends. Hygge is a Danish word that doesn’t have a literal English translation, but it describes a cosy atmosphere to enjoy good things and people around you. This session involves knitting, LEGO and storytelling, regular Fika breaks, hot chocolate and cinnamon bun bake-offs. Speakers include Anu Partanen, author of The Nordic Theory of Everything. 14 January 2017.

Women of the World Festival (WOW). Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden placed first to fourth respectively in the Global Gender Gap Index 2016. The seventh version of this festival coincides with the first WOW Finland, and celebrates gender equality in Nordic countries. 7 to 12 March 2017.

The classical music programme of Nordic Matters features a number of Nordic artists and events programmed by Southbank Centre Resident Orchestras. London Sinfonietta presents Nordic Nights – an evening of work by Nordic composers Eivind Buene, Kaija Saariaho and Rolf Wallin and featuring musicians Peter Herresthal, Guro Kleven Hagen, and Eivind Holtsmark Ringstad (6 June 2017). London Philharmonic Orchestra performs new works by Composer in Residence Magnus Lindberg: Cello Concerto No. 2 (UK premiere) with cellist Anssi Karttunen and conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste (22 March 2017) and ‘Two Episodes’ (6 May). Additionally, the 2017/18 season will have a distinctly Nordic theme, including specially- programmed concerts from Resident Orchestra the Philharmonia Orchestra and its Principal Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, and featuring violinist Pekka Kuusisto, pianists Vikingur Olafsson and Leif Ove Andsnes.

On the other end of the spectrum, Finnish quartet Apocalyptica presenting an evening of heavy metal played on cellos. 1 March 2017.

Apocalyptica. Photo: Ville Juurikkala

Apocalyptica. Photo: Ville Juurikkala

José González with The String Theory. Swedish singer-songwriter José González sold more than one million copies of his debut album and was involved in the soundtrack for the feature film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The String Theory involves some of Berlin and Gothenburg’s most exciting contemporary musicians. 24 January 2017.

Ice, forests and the future. Greenland contains 10% of the world’s ice, while Sweden and Finland are nearly 70% forest. This discussion looks at what the future looks like for the landscapes of the Nordic region in relation to climate change. The session will be led by Sjón, Icelandic poet, novelist and lyricist whose books include The Blue Fox and Moonstone and Robert Fergusson, author of Scandinavians: In Search of the Soul of the North. 14 January 2017.

Nordic artists, writers, musicians and performers will be featured in the festival, including: Leif Ove Andsnes, Apocalyptica, José González and The String Theory, Henna-Riikka Halonen, Jeppe Hein, Jesper Just, Anssi Karttunen, Pekka Kuusisto, Moddi, Anu Partanen, Outi Pieski, Kaija Saariaho, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Sjón, Maja Sten, Andreas Tophøj & Rune Barslund, Sandi Toksvig, Ingrid Torvund and the Nordic Puppet Ambassadors.

Nordic Puppet Ambassadors. Photo: Outi Sippola

Nordic Puppet Ambassadors. Photo: Outi Sippola

Nordic Music Days. This is one of the world’s oldest music festivals, founded in 1888. It showcases pioneering performances by living Nordic composers performed by leading ensembles and soloists from the UK and the Nordic region. This is the first iteration outside the Nordic region of the contemporary music festival, Nordic Music Days. 28 September to 1 October 2017.

London International Literature Festival. This festival will have a Nordic focus during 2017, featuring leading Nordic authors, a Nordic-focussed Poetry International in celebration of its 50th anniversary, a specially-commissioned Nordic Anthology, and Wall of Dreams, a large-scale projection of testimonies and dreams onto the Royal Festival Hall, in collaboration with Danish artist Morten Søndergaard. 13 to 29 October 2017.

There will also be participation activities ranging from mass feasts and a flat pack hack to, a learning through play workshop hosted by a LEGO® team.

Further programming information will be released throughout 2017.

“With a venture of this nature and size we can put our shared Nordic values and culture under the microscope and hope to be able to both inspire and be inspired beyond the borders of the Nordic Region. We might even learn something about ourselves and the links between the Nordic countries.” – The Nordic Council of Ministers

Website: Nordic Matters at the Southbank Centre


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