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Interior if the Reykjavik’s New Concert Hall. Press photo

There's something going on almost every day, and that's great. There will be more than 100 conferences, there will be banquets, receptions.”

We go on to the rock music, or conference, hall. The Great Hall, black box, and this room – all three are right next to each other, and the sound insulation is perfect. “An acoustic guitar can be playing in the smaller hall, and a rock group can be performing in the conference hall at the same time. No problem.” This is the “box in a box” effect – experts in acoustics will know what I mean. The conference hall can be divided into two, or not; then it can host a rock or electronica concert. It has rows of pull-out chairs, and the ambiance is created by diodes. Nothing is missing. The walls are made of narrow, silvery panels in two colors: the lighter panels are made from an absorbent material, while the darker ones enhance sound. The acoustic variations are limitless.

The smaller hall is on another floor – 500 seats, steeply angling down from the top row to the stage. It goes without mention, that here, too, are diodes imbedded into the... you get the point. An ideal space for chamber music and the spoken word... Schoenberg's Pierrot lunaire –  it's immediately clear to both Steinunn and me. Somewhere around here can be found the little musical mouse Maximus Musicus; his job is to get kids interested in the world of music. Steinunn adds that he's very good. Maximus Musicus used to live elsewhere, on the other side of the gulf, but had long been ready for a move. He has now arrived in his dream castle, across Iceland's iridescent saltwaters.

The concert hall's outside appearance is another wonder in this musically noteworthy story. The glass facade was designed by the Danish architect (with Icelandic roots) Olafur Eliasson. Suffice it to say, I don't have to introduce this great commander of light and water to the readers of a visual arts website. By the way, three of his insane lamps decorate the huge glassed-in lobby of Copenhagen's new opera house. However, his assignment in Reykjavik carried a greater responsibility – the architecture firm Henning Larsen Architects entrusted him with creating Harpa's visual image. In the local, left-leaning, English-language publication The Reykjavik Grapevine, the artist told of the innumerable hurdles he had to jump due to the change in financing sources, the economic crisis, and unforeseen foibles like the fact that neither the architecture firm, nor Olafur, were given the chance to influence the interior designers' foolhardy plan to install parquet flooring, or the same interior designers' failure to inform the exterior designers of a change in the interior wall color. It is important to state that the facade (a work of art, not architecture – Olafur points out) is still not done. Inside, the music is already playing, but workers in overalls are still hovering and tinkering around the hexahedron windows. Maybe by the inauguration on August 20th, or maybe a bit later still, it will be finished. Only then will Olafur's creation be ready for evaluation – he spent a lot of time weighing the effects of different plays of light and reflection on the facade's northern and southern sides.