WITH a population smaller than Wan Chai and a glorious one square kilometre of space for every single resident, a defiantly individualistic tradition and an unspoilt landscape of glaciers and geysers, Iceland could hardly be more different from Hong Kong. But three Icelanders are hoping to give Hong Kongers a taste of Scandinavian chamber music in what they describe as the first such concert to be performed in the territory. The group call themselves Rimur - an Icelandic word for a traditional form of rhyming poetry - and will play a selection of contemporary classical pieces from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland. And included in their repertoire is a piece by Josef Fung, the only Hong Kong-Icelandic composer in the world. Fung, who is also performing, cheerfully admits he is probably the only Hong Kong-Icelandic anything in the world. And the three musicians in Rimur represent nearly half of the Icelandic community in Hong Kong, which stands at a grand total of seven. Given these quaint statistics, the three Icelander musicians - Kristin Jakobsdottir, David Jatuardursson and Josef Fung - decided early on to expand the concert to include all five Scandinavian countries. The idea was not just to introduce the sound to Hong Kong, but to give something back to the Scandinavian population in the territory. The music varies from the 'thick, dramatic' tones of the Finnish pieces by Toivo Kuula and Berhard Crussell, to the 'sweetness' of the Swedish pieces by Erland von Koch and Hugo Alfven. All the pieces are relatively bleak, in keeping with the Scandinavian stereotype, but some are more bleak than others. The Finns are the gloomiest, but Iceland isn't far behind. The sense of melancholy is palpable in the songs they use to comfort their children. 'There is a lullaby in Iceland about a mother who leaves her baby to die in the snow because there is no food in the house,' says Jatuardsson. 'That used to be quite common. Not now, I hasten to add.' According to Jatuardsson, you have to know each country to understand how these national characteristics express themselves in music. 'It is hard to explain to outsiders,' he says. Jatuardsson is a naturalised Icelander, a Briton who went there in 1990 planning to stay a year but has made it his home for the past 14. He now holds Icelandic citzenship as well as a British passport in his English name of David Knowles. He came to Hong Kong for further adventure, he says, but plans to return to Iceland eventually. It was Jakobsdottir, the only 'pure' Icelander in the group, who brought them together, making the most of the 'high' number of musicians in town with knowledge of the Icelandic style. Timing their concert for early June, although it might appear incongruous, had a special significance. 'Icelandic music is often focused on June, on mid-summer,' Jakobsdottir explained. 'It is a very magical time, when there is no night at all. On June 24, a lot of Scandinavians celebrate and stay up all night. So many Scandinavian composers express this in music.' Talk of endless summer days and endless winter nights brought a sudden wave of nostalgia among the Icelanders. Out came the photographs of light, clear skies and barren seascapes, and the tales of Iceland's extraordinary individuality. In Iceland it transpires, interest in the arts is so widespread that touring orchestras have to play new or unusual pieces to guarantee an audience even in the smallest towns. 'If they play the standards,' says Jatuardursson, 'the people complain 'Why do they always play Mozart? Do they think we have no education?' ' His Icelandic name is based on his father's name, Edward, plus 'sson', in keeping with the normal practice in Iceland, while daughters take the suffix 'dottir'. But, Jatuardursson says, more and more children are taking their mother's names instead as '50 to 60 per cent of all Icelandic children are born out of any formally recognised relationship and single mothers are admired in Icelandic society'. Like the climate, the music and culture of Iceland is as remote from Hong Kong as it is possible to imagine. Rimur play in the Studio Theatre, Cultural Centre, Tsim Sha Tsui, at 8pm on June 4.