Gabriel Olafs: Lullabies | Episode 54

Crushing Classical Podcast | Jennet Ingle | Happiest Musician Minisodes: State of the Podcast 2023

Lullabies For Piano And Cello is a collection of instrumental works inspired by Icelandic folk songs. Accompanied by cellist Steiney Sigurðardóttir, the duo tracked the album in Reykjavik’s Eldborg Concert Hall. Following the implementation of choir, orchestra, and cinematic heft on 2022’s Solon Islandus, Gabríel made a conscious decision to strip the sound down to just these two instruments. As opposed to electronics, multi-tracking provided expansive flourishes. Together, Gabríel and Steiney unlocked a striking sound reliant on their quiet chemistry and a rich connection.

The 10-track album traces its origin to a famous collection of Icelandic melodies entitled Icelandic Folk Songs, which was unearthed by Gabríel at an antique bookshop in his home city of Reykjavik. Originally published in 1906, this out-of-print tome collated various folk numbers and lullabies with rare sheet music. Gabríel decided to not only reimagine five of the book’s tunes but to also pen five of his own lullabies as an homage to tradition.

“I have faith in the power of melody, and lullabies encapsulate both history and nostalgia,” says Gabríel.  “When I’m writing music, nostalgia is my favorite feeling to capture. It’s a complex emotion because it evokes both sadness and happiness at the same time. Lullabies are core musical memories for all of us, and with Lullabies for Piano and Cello I hope to unlock them for you.”

At just 24 years old, Gabríel responds to ancient Viking folk songs with the perspective of a postmodern Gen Z composer. By challenging himself to compose contemporary lullabies, he has explored his own fantasy world – a fantasy for his generation. And like all the best fantasy worlds, it is rooted in the history and mythology of his people, the Icelanders. After generating over 100 million streams for his original instrumental compositions and earning widespread international acclaim, Gabríel summons the spirit of timeless Icelandic lullabies with a twist of his own magic.

I loved talking with Gabriel because I learned A LOT. A lot about Icelandic history and linguistics. A lot about creating a brand new work with a sense of nostalgia. A lot about self-promotion and how having a record deal doesn’t mean that all of your problems are over.  This was a fascinating conversation and I know you will enjoy it! 

This episode is brought to you today by Happiest Musician Coaching. You are amazing, and I believe in you. What are you trying to create?  What do you need your career to be and do for you? What are you not seeing that you need to do and work on?  I love these conversations and supporting musicians like you. For a limited time, I’m offering a free 30-minute call to get you some clarity around your next steps, and see how I might help you get unstuck! 

Thanks for joining me on Crushing Classical! 

Theme music and audio editing by DreamVance.

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I’m your host, Jennet Ingle. I love you all. Stay safe out there!

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