Friday, April 25, 2003

April 2003

From the President’s Desk

Once again we are having a hard time to get service from the Vice Consul, Mr. Halikias. The General Consul lives and works in Washington DC so the Vice Consul is supposed to service Icelanders in this area. Well, elections are coming up in Iceland on the 10th of May and many of us would like to exercise our right to vote. The location of the office is in a far South suburb, which is a long commute for most of us and inaccessible by public transportation. Our plan was to vote on a Saturday so everyone interested could do so at the same time. That would save time for the Vice Consul and more people would vote, coming from the North and West suburbs. It looks like this is not going to happen. The Vice Counsel is ignoring us and does not return phone calls. So, if you would like to vote you have to take some time off and go during office hours. This is a back lag from the last elections - then he opened his office on a Saturday. I informed the Embassy of Iceland about the situation on the 2nd of April with an email directly to the Ambassador. They followed up with the Vice Consul who promised he would do everything he could to accommodate us. Well, I have placed five phone calls to his voice mail since then and, sadly, gotten no response.

Since the Vice Consul has no interest in the Icelandic community in Chicago it is my suggestion that he resigns. That would put a pressure on the government to do something for us and might result in a better service for those in need. We have many “horror” stories of people trying to get passport service, voting, etc., not to mention that we have invited him and his counterpart to take part in our activities, to which they have never responded. Finally, it is embarrassing to get questions from the Scandinavian community here about this situation and have to say that the General Consul for Iceland lives and works in Washington. Iceland is never represented officially in anything going on in Chicago. All the work that is done on behalf of the Icelandic Association of Chicago is all voluntary work and even though we try to take part in as many things as possible the Icelandic Consul for Chicago should live in Chicago, or at least near by!
Einar Steinsson, President

Breaking News - Vote in Absentia

Icelandic Parliamentary Elections

The Vice Consul just called us agreeing to open his office one Saturday for us to vote in absentia. We are planning a field trip on the 19th, next Saturday at 11 am. Please call Einar if you would like to join us since we will have to let them know how many are coming (773.489.4621). Elections in Iceland are on May 10. If April 19th does not suit you, you can also make an appointment with the Vice Consul’s office to vote during regular business hours. Vice Consul Halikias office is at 15750 S. Harlem Ave. Suite 28, Orland Park, IL 60611, Tel: 708-429-1126.

Association Affairs

From the Editor

Many of you have now seen Roman Polanski´s film The Pianist which was nominated for and won several Academy Awards last month. It is a powerful tale of a Jewish musician who literally stays alive due to his talent and the film is a great addition to the long list of films, books, music, plays etc based on the Holocaust.

“Tár úr Steini” or “Tears of Stone” is an Icelandic “Holocaust movie” from 1995 which is based on a period in the life of the Icelandic musician Jón Leifs (1899-1968) who lived in Berlin in the 1930. His wife was of Jewish descent which is thought to have been one of the main reason his prosperous career in Germany as a composer and conductor came to a grinding halt in the late 1930´s and early 1940´s. The following is a quote from a movie review by J. Berardinelli “...Like almost every well-constructed Holocaust drama, Tears of Stone is ultimately about sacrifice and loss. No one, not the Jewish Anna or the Aryan Jon, escapes from Hitler's reign unscathed. Jon does what he has to do to save his family, but, ironically, loses them because of his actions. And, while this film lacks the gut-wrenching emotional impact of a Schindler's List (Tears of Stone is more melodramatic than hard-hitting), it forces us once again to confront the blackest era of modern history…”

You can read about Jón Leifs and even listen to his music through the website I particularly recommend some of the works he wrote after the death of his daughter, Líf: Torrek op. 33a for voice and piano, Requiem op. 33b for mixed chorus, Elegies-In Memoriam op. 35 (all composed 1947), and the string quartet Vita et Mors op. 36 (1948-51).

Finally, from an article on Mr Leifs by Ingolfsson musicologist at Harvard University: “…In recent years Jón Leifs has become recognized as the most important and original composer of Icelandic music in the twentieth century… Leifs´s creation of a national style in the early twenties was a radical departure from convention. The small number of native musicians trained in composition in the early years of the century had for the most part neglected folk music as a source for their works, and they treated Leifs´s ideas with skepticism, if not outright scorn. There is, indeed, much that is primitive in Leifs´s music; although there are moments of great expressive beauty in his works, they often have a harsh, rugged, and austere character. In fact, Leifs occasionally attempted to describe in music the severe and often desolate landscape of his native country, including volcanoes, geysers, icebergs, and waterfalls.”

Þorrablót 2003

Again, great Þorrablót this year. Thanks to everyone who contributed to making it what it was. Fifty four purchased tickets for a total of $2,285. Raffle tickets were sold for $788 with a total income of $3,073. Expenses were roughly $3,600, overall loss of about $500. The musicians were very well received and the food, both the Þorrafood and the catered food was outstanding. Congratulations everyone!

Þorrablót 2004

The date for next year's Þorrablót has been set for Saturday, February 21, 2004. According to the rather new tradition the Þorrablót should be held downtown or closer to the water next year. However, no place has been reserved at this point. We would like to raise the question whether it would be possible to find a location more in-between the suburbs and downtown. This location should be accessible by public transportation since not everyone has the luxury of an automobile. We are looking for a reasonably priced place, which can host about 100 people, has space for some dancing, and, most importantly, will allow us to bring our Icelandic food and the Black Death! We have been paying rent up to $500. Please notify board members if you have ideas, otherwise, we will probably settle for the Swedish-American Museum.

Thanks to Þorrablót Donors!

The Association would like to thank everyone who donated their time and effort to the Þorrablót, helping to make it the success it was. Special thanks to Binna and Bud for donating tickets to the Skybox at the United Center, Stella for the gravlax, it was very good. Thank to the firms, Skífan for CD’s, The Blue Lagoon, Bautinn Restaurant, and Icelandair.

Icelandic Lessons

This January I launched off my pioneered Icelandic language class with 7 enthusiastic students. For 10 weeks we met at my house once a week for two hours and tackled subjects like pronunciation, grammar, declension, vocabulary, writing, etc., and, of course Icelandic culture and customs. We had great fun and as a result I have decided to go ahead and offer classes next fall. If you're interested please contact me by email or phone 773-489-4621

Gleðilega páska!
Lena Hallgrimsdóttir

News You Can Use

Sigurþór Heimisson at Steppenwolf Studio Theatre

An Icelandic Actor, Sigurthor Heimisson is currently performing in Seagull
at Steppenwolf Studio Theatre.

REDMOON THEATER is proud to announce the extension


Presented by Redmoon Theater in association with Steppenwolf Theatre
Adapted & directed by Jim Lasko


Inspired by Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull," Redmoon Theater brings its visionary style to this stage classic about chasing fame, artistic satisfaction and the one person you can not have. This premiere production features mechanically ingenious objects that extend and reveal Chekhov's well-known characters in wholly unexpected ways.

"Gracefully accomplished...full of visual wit."
-Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

"Transfixing and profoundly zany...A work of beautifully unfolding
magic and psychological insight."
-Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times

We are delighted to invite you to take advantage of our special offer.
2-for-1 ticket on the following dates: Sunday, April 20, 3:00 pm, Thursday, April 24, 7:30 pm Thursday, May 1, 7:30 pm.

For reservations, call 312-335-1650 and mention promotion code "IO". Limited availability. Tickets must be purchased by noon the day of the performance to receive this discount. Not valid for previously purchased tickets or with any other offer.

Location: Steppenwolf Studio Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted Street, Chicago

Letter to the Association

Our Leif Erikson Day committee was formed by the Norwegian National League but is intended to include members from all Scandinavian organizations. It probably should be under the auspices of the Icelandic groups. We now have Les and Lois Amack (Bjornson Male Chorus), Ted and Judy Torgersen (Skjold Lodge, Sons of Norway), Kirsten Lane (Swedish Consul, Swedish American Museum), and Linda Steffensen (Danish Pioneer) on the committee. We have met only once, at the Friendship Park Conservatory, where we were assured by Karen Blair of the Mt. Prospect Park District that we have Sunday, Oct. 11, for our celebration, and we will have their full cooperation and use of the entire facility.

We have contacted Steve Koivula of the Finnish American Assn and Art Saarinen of the Finnish Chamber of Commerce and we are hoping to soon have a Finn on our committee. But, of course, it would be of extreme importance that we get someone from the Icelandic community to help us. This is, I believe, the one-thousandth anniversary of Icelander Leif Eriksen's discovery and it should be as outstanding as we can make it.

So far we have had time to line up only a couple of participants: Bjornson Male Chorus and the Vesterheim Museum are the main ones. We're having our second meeting this Thursday, March 6, at 11 a.m. for lunch at the restaurant in IKEA in Schaumburg.
We hope you will be able to help us.

Les Amack

17. júní, Iceland´s Independence Day

"17. júní" Pot-Luck Picnic Party. This year we are celebrating “17. júní” at 12 noon on Saturday, June 14th, 2003 with a picnic/barbeque in Evanston.

We have reserved tables and grills in Elliot Park by the Lake, between Greenleaf and Dempster Street. The location is easy to find, one of three picnic areas just of Hamilton south of a playground and tennis court.

Please bring something for the grill or other food, and beverages of your choice. There is no charge for the picnic, but members should bring food to share.

We look forward to seeing you and would appreciate a phone call or an email to Lóa (847 328 5390/ or Sonja (847 675 2091) if you plan to come.

Lake Shore Drive from south: Take Lake Shore Drive and N. Sheridan Road to Lee Street in Evanston. Turn right towards the Lake, when you get to the lakefront turn left and follow the lakefront park until you see us and/or of find a parking spot.

From I-94: Take Dempster exit East. Keep straight on Dempster to the Lake, then turn right and look for parking.

By train: Take the CTA Red Line North to Howard. Take Purple Line to Dempster (3 stops). When you exit the station at Dempster take a right towards Dempster Street where you take a left towards the Lake (10 minutes). Turn right at the Lake into the park and you can’t miss our tribe with their friends.

Metra train stops on Main Street. You exit the station on Main Street, take a right towards Chicago Avenue, where you head one block North to Lee Street, walk towards the Lake and when you get to the lakefront turn left and head North in the Park. You will find the place before you get to the playground by Dempster (15 minutes).