Gunnar Karel Masson is an Icelandic composer whose work will be performed by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra at the Nordic Music Days. His piece is called „Grisaille“ and Gunnar completed the writing of the piece in August, so the people who will be at the concert will be attending the world premiere!
Gunnar was born in Reykjavík in 1984 and was young when he began playing instruments and just a teenager when he started to experiment with writing music, he tells me in our interview. In 2007, Gunnar studied composition in the Icelandic Academy of the Arts and graduated in 2010 with a bachelor‘s degree. Then he went to the Royal Academy of Music in Copenhagen and graduated there in 2014 with a master’s degree and a post-graduate diploma. Gunnar has written a lot of works for theaters which have been performed in many theatres all over the world and most of the pieces he writes are performative work.
Gunnar is an interesting man, he seems to have a lot more hours in a day than the rest of us do, he gets so much work done in so little time and he must be very organised to be able to do so. He only began writing „Grisaille“ in June this year, yet he did a lot of other things at the same time, which I find very impressive. „Grisaille“ is a piece where the inspiration comes from tableau vivant and Gunnar also finds that what matters a lot is the context of what is going around in the world at the time of writing, which makes a lot of sense. In the summer of 2020 Gunnar composed a piece for a soprano and a toy piano, following George Floyd´s death, which got the name „Sounds of Violence“, that piece is a good example of this.
In the concert in Harpa, „Grisaille“ is the first piece after the break. It has a very calm beginning and some intense bow progression, which really keeps one interested in the piece. Then I notice bows jumping on the cello strings, which makes a nice effect. It is very mysterious, one can hear the violins sounding like sirens. The atmosphere in this amazing building is very intense, I am sitting very close to the stage and can almost hear the fingers moving on the instruments. Then all of a sudden, after a calm mysterious while, there is a very intense brass part, that part made me open my eyes and this part cut deep, in a very good way, leaves me in total shock. The piece ends with a very intense percussion part and the last bit is a strong hit on the gong. Overall the performance is very good and Gunnar composed the piece very well.