arts 01.23.12

mood-altering mondays:
Ólafur Arnalds
Christina Bianco

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A mid-winter series that we'll run until our own moods are well and truly altered. Last week, we went for laughs. This week, music.

Poor Iceland.

First of all, that name. Needs serious rebranding.

And look on your globe. The country is neither here nor there, cast off from Europe, outside of the Arctic Circle, apart from the Scandinavian skein. Even Greenland shows scant interest.

So what might a 25-year-old Icelandic composer, pianist, percussionist, steeped in classical music, but also electronica, sound like? In the case of Ólafur Arnalds, the sound is neither precisely here nor definitively there, it is somewhere felt but unmapped. A place where sublime classical music tendrils embrace loops and beats. It may not be the sunniest spot but it sure is beautiful.

He has several albums beginning with Eulogy for Evolution from 2007. If you want to sample one work, watch this live recording of Glypa okkur with full orchestra. Last fall, he released Living Room Songs, seven songs in seven days recorded in his Reykjavik apartment. You can see the video results here. And next month, the soundtrack he composed for the movie Another Happy Day will be released.

Fond as we are of hairpin turns, we veer from neo-classical to Broadway bombast, channeled by one Christina Bianco. The singer-actress is a veteran of Forbidden Broadway, and currently appearing off-Broadway in Newsical.

In Ms. Bianco's arsenal is pitch-perfect mimicry, so that if you're a fan of Streisand, Bernadette Peters, or Julie Andrews, say, you can spend time with all of them. On Monday, February 20th, 7pm, at Birdland, she'll perform her one-woman show Diva Moments, guaranteed to have you laughing and cheering for Ms. Bianco's skills (which, in addition to impersonations, include a lovely 'straight' singing voice).

You can get a preview in this video, in which the actress imagines a variety of Broadway legends joining in on the song Tomorrow from Annie. Genius.

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