Unnur, Iceland



“This coming Sunday we were supposed to perform in Leiden. We are rehearsing Mozart’s Requiem, but the concert was cancelled due to Corona.” She’s a little upset about it. After months of work, the 150 members of the choir and orchestra were prepared for it.


“Collegium Musicum is a student association in Leiden. We are exclusively engaged in making music. Of course, there are also social activities, such as an introduction weekend, but we are not your typical party association. All the members are here because they want to make music. We rehearse every week.”


“In Iceland I studied music for five years during high school. I specialized in classical singing –Mozart, Brahms, Bach and all that. Very beautiful. But I have broader interests, so now I’m doing the international bachelor’s degree in Art History with a focus on contemporary art, media and society at the Faculty of Humanities. Furthermore, I am a member of the podcast committee of the Leiden Art History Association. In ‘Let’s Talk Art!’ we talk about art with fellow students and teachers.”


“I may like classical music, but I’m also a big fan of Ed Sheeran. I can’t get enough of him. How he can entertain 50,000 people for an evening during a concert with just his guitar is unbelievable. He writes a new song every day. I saw him in Iceland and he is definitely my idol.”


“I have been living in the Netherlands for two and a half years now. The first year I learned Dutch by working in a coffee bar in Amsterdam. That’s really the best way. I also did a course, but I learned the language much faster by serving coffee and pastries. A year later I started my studies. First, I lived in The Hague and later, when I finally found a room, in Leiden. I live with my Dutch boyfriend who studies at the TU in Delft.”


“Did you know that Iceland is four times the size of the Netherlands?” I am amazed. “I didn’t know that,” I say. “Are you sure you don’t mean Greenland?” She smiles. “No, Iceland! And we have less than 400,000 inhabitants who all live along the coastline, because the central part of the island is inhabitable. I lived in the capital, Reykjavik, which is the size of Leiden. If we went to my grandmother who lives in the east, we had to take the ring road around the island. That was a ten-hour drive. Or 45 minutes in a small plane.”


“Oh, practice starts. I’ll see you in a bit!” She grabs her sheet music and joins rehearsals for a performance that hopefully will take place soon.