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Front Row recruits Icelandic pianist for weekly lockdown performance

Vikingur Olafsson will perform at the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik.

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New BBC Broadcasting House in London (Aaron Chown/PA)

New BBC Broadcasting House in London (Aaron Chown/PA)

New BBC Broadcasting House in London (Aaron Chown/PA)

Icelandic pianist Vikingur Olafsson will perform weekly live performances during the lockdown as part of BBC Radio 4 arts programme Front Row’s artist in residence project.

Olafsson will start on Thursday with a rendition of his own transcription of Sigvaldi Kaldalons’s Ave Maria, on the grand piano of the empty Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik.

Prior to his performance each week, Olafsson will host a mini-masterclass about the piece.

Mohit Bakaya, controller of Radio 4, said: “We are doing everything we can to keep giving listeners the joy and escapism Radio 4 provides because we know it’s more important now than ever.

“Front Row continues to bring the arts and culture into people’s homes, and I’m delighted there is now a special treat for listeners with this wonderful live performance and masterclass each week at a time when bringing audiences broadcast quality live music is a real challenge.”

Olafsson said: “I am very happy to get to perform and talk about music on Front Row, the programme that has brought me so much inspiration and ideas over the years.

“Tonight I will be performing my own transcription of Sigvaldi Kaldalons’s Ave Maria. Kaldalons was a doctor and Ave Maria is by nature the perfect setting for this Thursday before Easter.

“I dedicate this prayer to all the people suffering but more specifically to all the health workers who are so selfless in the fight against Covid-19.”

The project is a collaboration between Front Row, Harpa Concert Hall and RUV, the Icelandic national broadcasting service.

Front Row is on Radio 4 from Monday to Thursday at 7.15pm, with a temporarily extended edition on Fridays at 7pm.

PA