New Compositions

The Cage We Make (Percussion Quartet)

Of Thy Noble Past (Concert Band)

A Waltz for One (Solo Piano)





May 2020

Premiere of Soft Snow

Héraðsdætur Women´s Choir

Reykjavik, Iceland


Blog Index
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Iceland vs. America: Work Life

The end of the school year is pretty much here and I thought I would compare my professional life in Iceland to the one I had in America. First off, my teaching job in Iceland is not nearly as demanding as the teaching jobs I had in the states. I work about 25 hours a week in Iceland and the culture here strongly discourages taking your work home. At first I wanted to work all the time because that is what I was used to in America. You graded papers, wrote lessons plans, and filled out your SLOs on the weekends and in free evenings. None of that exists here. You are expected to spend time with your family or pursuing personal passions. 

On a related note, the wages here very good. I outearn my highest paid job in the US by quite a bit. Granted the cost of living is very high but even with that I can pay my bills and live quite comfortably with money leftover at the end of the month. 

As for the performing side of my career, every gig I have done outside of my contracted teaching job has been a (well) paid gig. For those non-musicians out there this is definitely not the case in America, where creative people are habitually low-balled. I am being approached to write music for ensembles and performers are more than happy to program my music. In the states it felt like I couldn't give away my music unless they personally knew me. I will be applying for a commissioning grant in August that, if received, will fund 4 or 5 projects that will receive performances over the course of the next year.   

In short, I am far happier and fulfilled with my professional life now more than ever. 


Iceland vs. America: Nutrition

So I have been on a bit of a health journey lately and as a result I have lost over 60lbs/30 kilos. I am down to my undergrad weight of 214 lbs/97 kilos and my BMI has moved out of the Obese range and into the Overweight range. My goal is to get down to 180 lbs/80 kilos, which was my weight as a senior in high school.

One of the reasons for the weight loss is my low carb ketogenic diet combined with intermittent fasting. The other reason, which is what I want to discuss today, is that the nutrition standards for commercially available food in Iceland is way healthier than in America. 

For example, Iceland passed a law recently banning the sale of any food item that has more than 2% trans fat.The sheer lack of American style fast food is also very obvious here. The typical Icelandic diet promotes a healthy lifestyle as well. As a teacher who has worked in the US and Iceland I can say without a doubt that the quality of food served in Icelandic schools is far superior to the food served to kids in American schools, both in taste and nutrition value. Also, I am in love with the pickles they have here.  





My first experience with Universal Health Care

February 1st marked the end of my first 6 months of being a resident of Iceland. As a result, I am now in their universal health care system. I have been going to the doctor a lot due to a yet undiagnosed condition that has been bothering me for almost a year now. During the first 6 months I had to pay full price for doctor's visit (9, 000 Krona= $75 per visit) and blood tests (14,000 Krona= $117 per visit). In the first six months I easily racked up at least 150,000 krona in medial fees ($1250) which is around what I was paying for similar services in the US. 

I paid my first bill as a newly insured resident and my doctor's visit, blood test, and ambulance ride (false alarm but better safe than sorry) had a new cost of 5800 Krona ($48.00). That's a cost reduction of over 75%. Also, I have never paid more than $20 for a prescription here. I will say that due to my location in a very rural and remote part of the country it is very difficult to obtain services that require a specialist without having to travel. This would be no different if I lived in Alaska or a more remote part of the US but still a pain to deal with. 

So, in short, as an American who is still paying off the thousands of dollars of medical debt I accrued over the past year in the US, I am happy to finally not have the anxiety of health care costs be a factor in my daily life. 


The Christmas Season in Iceland

So the Christmas season is in full swing here in Iceland but it is not all fun and games. Christmas in Iceland is actually kind of scary with folk legends of a cat that eats kids that get no new clothes for Christmas and 13 mischievous little troll kids that visit houses right before Christmas. Don't get me started on their mother, Gryla


East Iceland Symphony Orchestra

Yesterday I had the pleasure of becoming one of the founding members of the East Iceland Symphony Orchestra. Musicians from all over Iceland came together Friday and Saturday for rehearsals and the concert despite travel delays caused by weather. The program consisted of classics such of the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth, two movements from Peer Gynt by Grieg, a medley of Bernstein's West Side Story. Icelandic composers were also represented on the program as well with national favorites like Eldur and three pieces for men's choir. The concert was held in a church in Eskifjördur and was sold out. As if Icelandic tradition there was coffee and cake after the concert. The response from the audience was very positive and I look forward to the next concert in late March. 

I managed to nab some rehearsal footage the dress rehearsal. Hope you enjoy it.