The Ice Music Festival 2018, in Norway

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The village was used for expedition training by British explorer Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) and his Norwegian counterpart Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930) before going to the South Pole. For this year festival, which was the 13th edition, a giant igloo was built, illuminated under blue and turquoise lights, and the audience, dozens of people, was huddled together in -24 Celsius. This festival is not for anyone sensitive to a shivering climate.

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Preparing the igloo for the Ice Music Festival in Finse

The xylophone, claves and wind instruments have been painstakingly carved from ice blocks extracted from a frozen lake. It’s about making the ice sing. The problem during a such event is the longer the musicians play, the more the instruments start to disintegrate. It is not an easy task “to perform on instruments that are melting while you play them,” says percussionist Terje Isungset, also the founder of the festival. The festival has previously been held in Geilo, a ski resort in the central mountain region of Norway. But “this winter… the ice was really slushy and difficult to deal with.”

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