The Skálholt Summer Music Festival is Iceland’s oldest summer music festival, founded in 1975 by harpsichordist Helga Ingólfsdóttir (1942-2009). At first it focused on baroque music but from 1978 new compositions have been premiered every year. Now the main emphasis is on contemporary religious music and early music with composers and performers are resident in Skálholt during the festival which usually lasts for five weeks in July and early August. All the concerts are performed in Skálholt Cathedral which is considered one of the finest buildings for perfoming music in Iceland because of its acoustics.
The festival has access to convenient accommodation facilities for musicians, who often dwell there for a week at a time, with good rehearsal and lecture rooms facilities. Rehersals are also in the Cathedral. Recently Skálholt Cathedral received from the legendary Dutch violinist Jaap Schröder his collection of scores and books on music and arts, thereby founding a Music Library in Skálholt. Mr. Schröder who is in his nineties still comes to Skálholt every year
Apart from around 30?? public concerts, lectures and workshops in Skálholt over the period of 5 weeks each summer, the festival takes part in CD releases for international distribution, musical scores publications and regular ensembles, such as the Skálholt Quartet. Musical compositions commissioned through the years for the festival have become standard repertoire and have been performed internationally.
Of music emerging from musical activities in Skálholt the most famous is probably “Heyr himna smiður” (Hear, you Smith of the Heavens) which was composed for the 10th anniversary of Skálholt Cathedral in 1973. It can be heard here in unusual surroundings.