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Kirkjubæjarklaustur (Klaustur) is a village in the south of Iceland on the hringvegur (road no. 1 or Ring Road) between Vík í Mýrdal and Höfn. It is part of the municipality of Skaftárhreppur and has about 500 inhabitants.
Even before the time of the first Norse settlement in Iceland, Irish monks are thought to have lived here. Since 1186, a well known convent of Benedictine nuns, Kirkjubæjar Abbey, was located in Kirkjubæjarklaustur, until the Reformation in 1550. The names of the waterfall Systrafoss („waterfall of the sisters“) and of the lake Systravatn („water of the sisters“) on the highland above the village refer to this abbey. Folk tales illustrate the history with stories about good and sinful nuns. The Systrastapi (sister’s rock) is where two of the convent’s nuns were buried after being burned at the stake. One of the nuns was accused of selling her soul to the Devil, carrying Communion bread outside the church, and having carnal knowledge with men; the other was charged with speaking blasphemously of the Pope. After the Reformation, the second sister was vindicated, and flowers are said to bloom on her grave, but not that of the first nun. Systravatn also has a legend relating to the convent. The nuns traditionally bathed in the lake, and one day two nuns saw a hand with a gold ring extending from the water. When they tried to seize the ring, they were dragged below the water and drowned.
The village became well known in Iceland during the Lakagígar volcano eruptions in 1783. The pastor of the local church and dean of Vestur-Skaftafellssýsla, Jón Steingrímsson (is) (1728 – 1791), delivered what became known as the „Fire Sermon“ (eldmessu) on July 20, 1783. The legend says that this sermon stopped the lava flow, and the village was spared at the last moment. The current church, constructed in 1974, was built in memory of the Reverend Jón Steingrímsson.
Today, the village is an important service center for the farms in the region as well as for tourists and weekend visitors. (Wikipedia)
During summer time many bird species are nesting close to the village and the river Skaftá which flows beside the village. Arctic Terns have a big colony almost in the middle of the village, so many other migrant birds are nesting there too.
The recording was captured early morning 7th of June 2016 and is a part of 7 hours long recording
Many bird species are in this recording, Arctic tern, Red wing, Common Snipe, Whimbrel, Common Redshank, Red-necked Phalarope and probably many other species. What I love most in this recording is in the middle of the recording, is a „special song“ of Eurasian Wigeon which is not a common bird in my recordings.
Quality headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level. Be careful, sometimes the level goes high when birds fly by.

(mp3, 265kbps / 59Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20
Pic: Canon EOS-M

Location: 63.787049, -18.050793
Weather: Cloudy, Calm, around 7 °C

Auglýsingar

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Hér er á ferðinni lágstemmd hljóðupptaka sem beinlínis lýsir ljóðrænni sveitasælu út við sjó. Hún er tekin upp við Kópavog fyrir neðan bæinn Ófeigsfjörð við samnefndan fjörð á Ströndum.
Ímyndaðu þér að þú liggir þar með lokuð augun á grasbala rétt ofan við fjöruna við hliðina á lækjarsprænu sem rennur þar til sjávar. Þú ert þar milli svefns og vöku, það er logn og sólin vermir skrokk og grundir. Lágstemmd en þung undiraldan lemur sandfjöruna fyrir neðan þig og þú heyrir í henni jafn vel neðan úr jörðinni sem ofan.
Nú stefnir allt í að þessi sveitasæla sé að hverfa á þessum dásamlega stað.
Það hefur væntanlega ekki farið fram hjá nokkrum manni að innlendir sem erlendir braskarar hafa gengið hart í því að fá að virkja Hvalá sem rennur í Ófeigsfjörð. Mikil andstaða er við þessi virkjanaáform. Hafa braskararnir því mútað fólki með ýmsum hætti s.s. með loforðum um innviðauppbyggingu ofl.
Ég ætla ekki það skrifa meira um þetta hér, en vísa á fréttir og blaðagreinar.

Sjá fréttaskýringu frá RUV  (1. nóvember 2017)
Sjá blaðagrein hjá Stundinni  (9. febrúar 2018)

Kópavogur in Ófeigsfjörður

There are not many places left in Iceland where it is possible to have peace from traffic or feel as you are in clean unspoiled nature. But one of this places is in the northeast Iceland named Hornstrandir and Strandir.
But now, „business“ gangsters are planing to build a power plant in the river Hvalá that flows into the fjord, Ófeigsfjörður at Strandir.

Read article about this attack on this region:

Conservationists reject plans for hydropower plants in untouched Westfjords wilderness
Plans to destroy unique waterfalls in an abandoned fjord meets stiff resistance
See the breathtaking hidden waterfalls of the remote Strandir region in beautiful video

Following recording was recorded in June 2015 below the old farm Ófeigsfjörður which will be just a typical noisy place in the future if the business gangsters are going to build the power plant just few kilometers north of the recording place.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at medium level.

(mp3 256kbps / 56Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Rode NT1a (NOS)
Pix: Canon EOS M
Recording location: 66.049968, -21.703009
Weather. Calm, sunny, about 14°C

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One year ago I was recording in Skaftafell national park and neighborhood in southeast of Iceland. One of my favorite recording place in this area is not exactly in the park, but on Skeiðarársandur, a huge broad sandy wasteland along Iceland’s south-eastern coast, between the Vatnajökull icecap and the sea.
One of the reason I love this place is the silence. There is almost „nothing“. Just the sand. In the horizon far away is the glacier Vatnajökull on the one side, and on the other side just the sky. The only thing that disturbs this silence is traffic or the wind. So when it is calm during the night and traffic is down it is possible to listen deep into this amazing open space. There is not much life. There is probably only Rock Ptarmigan that lives there all year around. Other species are migrants during the summertime so it is easy to say, Rock Ptarmigan is the residents of silence.
This recording is a recording of silence. Most people will not hear anything in this circumstances, probably only its own heartbeat and notice „they have“ tinnitus. But with best equipment is it possible to listen deeper into this quiet place.
You will hear some birds and insects. With good headphones you will hear the rumble sound of heavy surf on the beach 20 to 30 km far away.
BUT this recording is not completely quiet. So be careful while listening. Two birds, a male and female Rock Ptarmigan, are coming very close, „talking“ loud into your ears (2:05).
It is also worth to listen to another earlier recording from this place. „Stories from Skeiðarársandur„.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level, or in speakers at low level.

(256kbps / 61Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40 +5° outward)
Weather: Calm, cloudy, +5°C
Location: 63.969892, -17.160072

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I have published many times recordings from the Nature Reserve Flói in southwest Iceland, so I will not introduce that area again.
During the years I remember couple of times when curious sheeps have disturbed the recording. This is one of them.
This peace is a 30 minutes of nine hour overnight recording. It was recorded between 7 and 8 o´clock in the morning 25th of July 2015.
The recording is not only disturbed by the sheeps, it is also highly disturbed by tourist traffic, especially in the air. Jets are arriving and leaving the country and smaller planes in sightseeing so this peaceful area is not especially quite this time.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at medium level.

(256kbps / 57,2Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: RodeNT1 (NOS) & MKH20 (AB40) as close together as possible
Pix: Canon EOSM
Location: 63.901026, -21.192189
Weather: Calm, cloudy, around 11°C

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Last summer I spend one week at Raufarhöfn, a small village in north east of Iceland, close to the arctic circle. Most of the time it was a fool‘s weather for „quality“ recording. But anyway, I recorded almost 6 to 10 hours every night close to the sore. Most of theese recordings contains rumbling wind noise, but sometimes – very few times, I got what I was looking for.
Here is one of them, recorded 17th of June 2016.
It is early morning. The clock is around four. Birds are busy to protect and teach their young to search for food. Shortly after the recording starts, you can hear a fisherman pass by on his car on way to the harbor. Then later, the fishing boat goes, and passes by on the way to the sea. It takes a long time for the enginenoise to disrepair.
This is a peaceful recording. A typical midsummer morning soundscape at the arctic circle, where the sun never goes down. Many bird spices are in this recording, but mostly Common Eider and their youngs. Also you can hear Oystercatcher , Golden Plover, Purple Sandpiper, Red Necked Phalarope, Whimbrel, Common Snipe, Redwing, Snow Bunting, Svan, Great Northern Diver, Northern Fulmar, Kittiwake, Raven and probably may other.
Quality open headphones are recommended while listening at low to mid level.

(256kbps / 55Mb)

Recorder: Sound Devices 788
Mics. Sennheiser MKH20 (AB40)
Pics: Canon EOS–M

Location: 66.451296, -15.946621
Weather: Light gust, cloudy

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I am used to feed birds daily in my garden with all kinds of leftovers.
There are always some birds that watch my garden every day, and when they see me in the garden, some starling give a high pitch signal and some of them fly away. But shortly after that they come back with a flock of other birds, normally common starlings and redwings. Some birds like one blackbird and some redwings are now extra gentle around me while I prepare the food in the garden.
Christmas day, 25th of December 2016, was just like another „feeding day“. But it was snowing, so the traffic noise wash less than usual and therefore a perfect day to record a birds activity.
This recording starts slowly. Just few birds have arrived when the recording starts. But in the end the birds have eaten almost everything and they start singing, packed in the trees all a around my house.

(224kbps / 48Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Rode NT1a in Rycote Cyclone (AB50 setup)
Pix: GoPro Hero3
Weather: Cloudy, light breeze, snowing and -3°C

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Pablo Sarasate was born 10 March 1844 in Pamplona, Navarre, the son of an artillery bandmaster. He began studying the violin with his father at the age of five and later took lessons from a local teacher. His musical talent became evident early on and he appeared in his first public concert in A Coruña at the age of eight.
His performance was well-received, and caught the attention of a wealthy patron who provided the funding for Sarasate to study under Manuel Rodríguez Saez in Madrid, where he gained the favor of Queen Isabella II. Later, as his abilities developed, he was sent to study under Jean-Delphin Alard at the Paris Conservatoire at the age of twelve.
There, at seventeen, Sarasate entered a competition for the Premier Prix and won his first prize, the Conservatoire’s highest honour. (There was not another Spanish violinist to achieve this until Manuel Quiroga did so in 1911; Quiroga was frequently compared to Sarasate throughout his career.)
Sarasate, who had been publicly performing since childhood, made his Paris debut as a concert violinist in 1860, and played in London the following year. Over the course of his career, he toured many parts of the world, performing in Europe, North America, and South America. His artistic pre-eminence was due principally to the purity of his tone, which was free from any tendency towards the sentimental or rhapsodic, and to that impressive facility of execution that made him a virtuoso. In his early career, Sarasate performed mainly opera fantasies, most notably the Carmen Fantasy, and various other pieces that he had composed. The popularity of Sarasate’s Spanish flavour in his compositions is reflected in the work of his contemporaries. For example, the influences of Spanish music can be heard in such notable works as Édouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole which was dedicated to Sarasate; Georges Bizet’s Carmen; and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, written expressly for Sarasate and dedicated to him.
Of Sarasate’s idiomatic writing for his instrument, the playwright and music critic George Bernard Shaw once declared that though there were many composers of music for the violin, there were but few composers of violin music. Of Sarasate’s talents as performer and composer, Shaw said that he „left criticism gasping miles behind him“. Sarasate’s own compositions are mainly show-pieces designed to demonstrate his exemplary technique. Perhaps the best known of his works is Zigeunerweisen (1878), a work for violin and orchestra. Another piece, the Carmen Fantasy (1883), also for violin and orchestra, makes use of themes from Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen. Probably his most performed encores are his two books of Spanish dances, brief pieces designed to please the listener’s ear and show off the performer’s talent. He also made arrangements of a number of other composers’ work for violin, and composed sets of variations on „potpourris“ drawn from operas familiar to his audiences, such as his Fantasia on La forza del destino (his Opus 1), his „Souvenirs of Faust“, or his variations on themes from Die Zauberflöte. In 1904 he made a small number of recordings. In all his travels Sarasate returned to Pamplona each year for the San Fermín festival.
Sarasate died in Biarritz, France, on 20 September 1908, from chronic bronchitis. He bequeathed his violin, made by Antonio Stradivari in 1724, to the Musée de la Musique. The violin now bears his name as the Sarasate Stradivarius in his memory. His second Stradivari violin, the Boissier of 1713, is now owned by Real Conservatorio Superior de Música, Madrid. Among his violin pupils was Alfred De Sève. The Pablo Sarasate International Violin Competition is held in Pamplona. (Wikipedia)
Following recording Zigeunerweisen is performed by Chrissie Telma Guðmundsdóttir (violin) and The Iceland Amateur Symphony Orchestra directed by Oliver Kentish.
This was recorded at Seltjarnarnes Church 16th of October 2016.
Thanks to Oliver and Chrissie who gave me a permission to publish this recording on the web.

(320Mbps / 24,4Mb)

Recorder: Sound devices 788
Mics: Neumann KM184 (NOS) & Line Audio OM1 (AB40) in 3m above orchestra. Sennheiser MKH20 for bass and Line Audio CM3 on soloist (Chrissie).
Location: 64.1485379,-22.0052351

More information:
Chrissie Telma Guðmundsdóttir
Oliver Kentish
The Iceland Amateur Symphony Orchestra

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