Preview: Ólafur Arnalds presents OPIA @ Southbank Centre (London; Friday 8th November 2019)

Opia arnalds southbank

On Friday 8th November, Southbank Centre dedicates a night to Ólafur Arnalds and his art. The Icelandic composer and pianist will take over the London riverside cultural hub and its venues to give life to OPIA, a programme of performances and DJ-sets featuring exciting names in the electronica, contemporary, classic, jazz, and experimental music scenes.

The starting point of the two-part event is the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig, a website and YouTube channel aiming to describe complex human emotions with single neologisms. ‘Opia’ is arguably one of the most “successful” examples, being able to sum up in a single word “the ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable”.

Ólafur Arnalds made the neologism his own and assembled a line-up of musicians whom, from his perspective, share a similar creative vision characterised by the feeling.

In the first half of the one-night opia-dedicated festival (from 7pm to 10pm), Arnalds, his piano and electronic effects will be the protagonists on the Royal Festival Hall stage, where he will play a solo show and eventually leave the scene to German/Swiss experimental jazz duo Grandbrothers. While in the Hall’s foyer, German musician Josin will display her soulful electronica.

At the Queen Elizabeth Hall, it will be about Canadian R&B act Rhye and British composer, music researcher and Hidden Orchestra member Poppy Ackroyd. A few metres away, the Purcell Room will sound Icelandic with Högni Egilsson, one of the most popular singers/songwriters in his country, next to being the frontman of Hjaltalín. He will share the stage with Polish experimental composer and pianist Hania Rani.

The second part of the event, which will go on from 10pm until late, is dedicated to more dancy vibes. The Queen Elizabeth Hall’s foyer will treat its audience to Kiasmos (a minimalist and experimental collaboration between the event host Ólafur Arnalds and Faroese Janus Rasmussen) and London-based techno DJ VAAL.

Meanwhile, back at the Festival Hall, the Clore Ballroom will enjoy a “late-night set of ambient improvisations” by Rhye accompanied by some special guests.

On 8th November, get ready to understand and experience the sense of “opia” in first person, thanks to the absorbing artistry of Ólafur Arnalds and a striking cast of musicians giving new interpretations to contemporary music.

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