Thursday, August 29, 2013
While the Model S was designed for the relatively up-market customer, Tesla Motors is believed to be working on developing mass production vehicles at more accessible prices; if their models produced to date are any indication, there is every reason to believe that they will succeed. Electric vehicles provide Iceland with the opportunity to rely exclusively on renewable energy as most motor vehicles used in Iceland today rely almost exclusively on fossil fuels. We are naturally proud to see American technology taking a leading role here in Iceland.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
|Photo: Icelandic National League of Iceland|
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
She is an Inupiat Eskimo born and raised in Nome, Alaska. She has extensive experience working with Alaska Native communities and the Alaska Native Science Commission has helped give those communities a voice in national and international climate change discussions. She has also represented the Inuit Circumpolar Council in the Arctic Council. Her presentations gave us a lot to think about regarding the role of “Traditional Knowledge” in the shaping of Arctic policies. She made a forceful case that the indigenous people of the Arctic aren’t simply stakeholders; they are “rights holders.”
We welcomed hundreds of visitors and among them there was a lucky group that got to listen to the performance by trumpet virtuosos Stephen Burns and Baldvin Odsson along with pianist Mattias Wager. They performed works by Telemann, Vivaldi, and American composer Aaron Copland. We were touched by the warm comments of many of the guests who had never been to the residence. The day ended with a spectacular display of fireworks at the harbor.
Friday, August 23, 2013
The Hallgrímskirkja Festival of the Sacred Arts hosted a fabulous program on August 22. American trumpet virtuoso Stephen Burns teamed up with Icelandic wunderkind Baldvin Oddsson, and American organ virtuoso Douglas Cleveland to fill the church with the joyous sound of pieces by Telemann, Nicholas Bruhns, Julian Wachner, James Stephenson, Louis Marchand, and the all-time classic Vivaldi. Every seat of the church was filled. The audience expressed its deep appreciation for the music with enthusiastic and extended applause at the end of the program. Those of us who had never heard musical pieces orchestrated with a trumpet and organ were simply blown away by the performance and left asking for more, much more. We were encouraged to hear that Burns and Cleveland might team up to produce a CD in the future. It would be well worth the wait.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Douglas Cleveland’s uplifting performance
The next day we attended an unforgettable performance by Douglas Cleveland, who hails from Reykjavík’s sister city Seattle. He selected pieces that demonstrated both his range and versatility. The program began with Mozart’s Fantasia in F Minor; a piece of impossible complexity originally written for a music box inside a clock. He followed it with Prelude and Fughe in E-Flat Major by C. Saint Saens, and with Kairos by Pamela Decker which one could easily imagine as the music that accompanied the creation of the cosmos. He closed the program with Elegy by Ken Yuki and Sonata No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 42 by A. Guilmant. Both of these were at once overwhelming and exhilarating.
Douglas will be performing again on Thursday when he teams with two trumpet players, Stephen Burns from Chicago and Baldvin Oddsson. They will perform pieces by Telemann, Nicholaus Bruhns, James Stephenson, Louis Marchand, and Vivaldi.
Monday, August 19, 2013
While jazz’s roots are American, we are delighted to see it embraced the world over and enhanced by contributions from practically every culture. We are very proud to once again support the Reykjavik Jazz Festival and to bring to Iceland music that brings our people together.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Monday, August 12, 2013
We also partnered with the organizers of Reykjavik Pride to screen two films. At the beginning of the festivities, we screened “Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin.” At the final event on Sunday, we screened “Edie and Thea: A Very Long Engagement,” a moving story about a couple’s long struggle. One of the stars of this film, Edie Windsor, launched a lawsuit that led to the U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. The directors of this film, Susan Muska and Gréta Olafsdóttir participated in the screening and a discussion afterwards. It was a full week that put on display the values shared by Icelanders and Americans and a demonstration of what our partnership can accomplish.
Friday, August 9, 2013
On our way back to Reykjavik we stopped in Blönduós to see Bjarni Stefánsson, the District Commissioner (Sýslumaður)--an important official in Iceland's legal system. We had a good visit to discuss the latest developments in the area; we also had the opportunity to taste Hrefna's fabulous rhubarb and blueberries cake. The town also hosts very interesting textile and sea ice museums.
Driving along the coast on the way to Sauðárkrókur one comes across Lónkot--an idyllic spot on the coast across from Drangey (an imposing island in the middle of Skagafjördur). There we met Pálína, an effervescent and multi-talented designer/chef/classical dancer, who prepared a fabulous Arctic char dish and introduced us to the work of Sölvi Helgasson an Icelandic artist from the 19th century. We never cease to be amazed at the wonderful surprises hiding all over Iceland.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
The most recent addition is the Arctic Services/Eyjafjordur Business Development Agency which is a consortium of some of Iceland's top business and engineering firms dedicated to establishing a base of services in support of Arctic investments. The United States is ready to partner with all these institutions.
Whale Museum was thriving with tourists interested to learn about these noble giants.
We love their recent addition which teaches and engages children on the preservation of these gentle and beautiful creatures. There is no question that whale watching is an enormously important industry in Iceland. It is thriving and generating much needed jobs and other economic activity. I am pleased to note that the U.S. National Science Foundation has partnered with the Culture Museum Director to teach children about archeological research in the area, and that an American couple donated a significant amount in support of the Whale Museum.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
The road takes you next to barren yet spectacular mountains, lakes, and right through the middle of mighty glaciers (Hofsjökull, Köldukvíslarjökull, Tungnafellsjökull, and of course the biggest of them all Vatnajökull). I would highly recommend this trip to anyone willing to take a bit of punishment on the kidneys. It is unforgettable.