Every year world-class musicians and other artists gather at the Ice Music Festival in Geilo.
Blocks of ice become musical instruments
The musicians play instruments made of ice. Large blocks of ice are cut from the frozen lake and then sculpted with amazing skill into harps, drums, horns and guitars. Up to a week’s worth of effort goes into crafting the instruments before they can be played.
Sounds never to be heard again
It is impossible to know in advance what the music will sound like during the festival because the winter conditions determine the quality of the ice and the sounds produced by the instruments change along with the temperature.
Not surprisingly, tensions run high from the time the preparations begin until the concert is over. Never again will exactly the same sounds be heard by an audience.
Under the direction of the full moon
The timing of the Ice Music Festival is also determined by nature, as it is always held during the period of the first full moon of the year. The moon is stunning at this time of year since this is when its orbit brings it closest to the earth – that is, 50,000 km closer than its apogee. When the skies are clear, the lunar light makes unparalleled stage lighting.
Winter songs from Isungset
Terje Isungset, who was born in Geilo, is one of the founders of the Ice Music Festival. For over 20 years this musician and artist has brought unique musical experiences to audiences worldwide with his percussion instruments. During this year’s festival he launched and performed pieces from his new CD entitled “Winter Songs”, his sixth musical work based on instruments made of ice.
Ice sculptor Bill Covitz
The professional ice sculptor Bill Covitz
from Connecticut, USA, came to Geilo this year to create and play a two-metre tall ice harp. He was also responsible for designing and decorating the festival venue. Covitz has played a key role in the festival since its beginning and in the past has sculpted unique instruments such as an ice marimba, an ice guitar and an ice Hardanger fiddle.
Back to the cycle of nature
Water is the quintessential natural material. It is also an important principle of the festival that as much material as possible is returned to nature after its use. The musicians merely borrow the snow and ice, and after entertaining their audiences with magical performances, they return their instruments to the natural environment. The next year, new melodies will be played on new ice instruments.
The photos in the article are taken by photographer Emile Holba (www.emileholba.co.uk).