Inside a huge igloo in a snowy Norwegian village, the sound of a horn calls out, warming the mood of a freezing audience, gathered together in -24 Celsius. The 4 artists performing are even colder: the instruments they are playing are all made of ice.
The xylophone, claves and wind instruments have actually been fastidiously sculpted from ice blocks drawn out from a frozen lake, and are now part of a finger-numbing performance at the 13th Ice Music Festival in the mountain village of Finse.
The problem is, the longer the musicians play, the more the instruments begin to disintegrate.
It is not a simple job “to carry out on instruments that are melting while you play them,” says percussionist Terje Isungset, likewise the creator of the festival.
Using thick wool gloves, he blows warm air into his ice-sculpted horn, brightened under blue and blue-green lights. Beside him, a singer with an angelic voice covers her mouth with a scarf to remain warm, while a bass gamer eliminates his gloves so he can pull the strings on his ice-made instrument.
The setting of the festival, 195 kilometres west of Oslo, is not for anybody conscious a shivering climate.
Held in between Feb. 2 and 3 inside an igloo built entirely of ice, lots of individuals wearing clothes fit to survive freezing mountain weather sit on snow benches while cheering and covering their arms around each other.
As the night gets older, a band member blows into a long ice wind instrument formed like an Australian didgeridoo, vibrating across the location.
“It’s a fine line between art and madness,” Emile Holba, a UK-based photographer and crew member, tells AFP as he ruptures into laughter.
“Things can go wrong, instruments can break … the audience likes the pureness of it,” he adds.
The festival has formerly been kept in Geilo, a ski resort in the main mountain region of Norway. But organizers say the weather condition there has actually become milder, making it hard to construct ice locations and more difficult to avoid the instruments from melting.
“This winter season … the ice was really slushy and tough to deal with,” Isungset said. “It’s the very first time I have actually seen ice like this.”
Searching for guaranteed freezing temperature levels, the celebration moved further west to Finse, a Thirty Minutes train trip from Geilo.
Surrounded by mountains framing a glacier, the location was utilized to create the snow planet “Hoth” in the opening scene of Star War’s film “The Empire Strikes Back”.
The town was likewise the base for Antarctic expedition training by British explorer Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) and his Norwegian equivalent Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930).
“It’s type of transcendent … there is magic there,” says Holba.
Preparing the celebration is no simple job. It took organizers a week to build the igloo and the ice had to be sourced and gathered by a team of more than 20 individuals.
Big chunks were gotten rid of from a nearby lake and the musicians utilized chainsaws, hammers and chisels to carefully shape the instruments.
“It’s simply music … and aiming to create something from nearly absolutely nothing,” Isungset stated.
After the celebration, a few of the instruments do become nearly absolutely nothing once again, the ice leaking away back into the earth. A few of the ice-creations do endure.
If deemed to be in great sufficient shape, the instruments are saved inside a freezer, waiting in frozen seclusion, to be utilized again the following year.
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