Ice Music Festival Norway: when ice sounds good

On February 14, 2019, one of the most unbelievable and fascinating festivals of the world will take place: Ice Music Festival Norway – In the chilly Norwegian Winter, musicians gather to make music with instruments made of pure ice.

Ice Music Festival Norway: when ice sounds good

Photo by Emile Holba for Ice Music Festival Norway

Ice Music Festival Norway, not far from Oslo (and quite close to Bergen), is definitely one of the most incredible live music events in Europe, a happening that should be attended at least once in a lifetime. It takes place in one of the most northern countries in the world, once a year, when some musicians gather to make music with instruments made of the purest Norwegian Ice.

The Ice Music Festival born in Norway in 2006, was conceived by Terje Isungset together with Pål Knutsson Medhus. The 14th edition will begin on February 14th and will end on the 16th, in a period of the year ideal to not allow the musical instruments to go melting thanks to temperatures that can easily drop 20 degrees below zero.

This festival, glacial to say the least, is usually held in the Geilo ski resort area. Since the last edition, however, the location has been moved to the mountains of Finse. This move has made the experience of the event even more extreme, since the Winters of the area of ​​Finse have the reputation of being particularly harsh. In the last edition, the inclement winds have only calmed down for the 2 days of music (luck favours the brave!).

Terje Isungset, creator and current Artistic Director of the Festival, as well as veteran jazz musician, has thought to make music with ice for the first time in 1999, when he performed inside a frozen waterfall in Lillehammer, Norway. He liked the result so much that he decided to repeat it over the years, giving life to new musical instruments made out of ice which sounded as much as possible as their “wooden siblings”, but with a more delicate sound. Basically this is how the idea for the Ice Music Festival was born.

What makes Ice Music Festival Norway (already unique in the world) even more unique is the choice of the type of ice “to play“. If a man-made ice was created thanks to freezers, this would be completely porosity-free and that would result in highly anonymous sound properties. The use of natural ice instead, taken for this year’s edition from the near Lake of Finse, makes the musical performance much better, giving life to a fascinating music of silvery sounds.

The festival is also intimate and exclusive: about thirty volunteers and university students from the University of Bergen work alongside architects, carvers and ice sculptors, so that the glacial instruments and the festival venue can be ready on the established date. But the most incredible thing of all is that not only the musical instruments (including horns, drums, harps, guitars, keyboards) but also the stages on which musicians will perform are made of pure Norwegian Lake ice!

One of the “peaks” of these “hot” three days of ice music will surely be the midnight concert under the First Full Moon of the year, cradled by music and songs with an almost sacred character.

Here we’re talking about emotions that no music festival in the world could ever give you, exception made for Ice Music Festival Norway.

Written and translated by Gerardo Iannacci.