Their tuning changes as they’re played, they can’t be practised for long, and they must be returned to the freezer as soon as the concert is over. These are just a few of the challenges posed by the unusual instruments a pair of Norwegian performers are bringing to London. The reason? The instruments are carved out of ice.
Somerset House is hosting nine performances of ‘Ice Music’, a 30-minute event created by Norwegian jazz percussionist and experimental composer Terje Isungset. He’ll be performing alongside Norwegian vocalist Lena Nymark. The instruments, all made from ice taken from centuries-old Norwegian glaciers, include ice horns, ice percussion and an ‘icephone’.
Isungset decided to create the ethereally sounding instruments after taking part in an experimental concert staged in a cave behind a frozen waterfall 11 years ago.
‘I’d often thought about using ice in my performances and finally I had the opportunity to try it out,’ Isungset tells The Daily Telegraph. ‘I could hear tones I had never heard before. I was so eager to explore this new source, I didn’t have time to eat and sleep.’
As well as the Ice Music concerts, which draw on ice instrument recordings he made in the Norwegian mountains, Insungset has collaborated with filmmaker Phil Slocombe to create The Idea of North, a sound and video installation evoking Northern landscapes.
Ice Music performances take place daily from 7-9 January 2011 at Somerset House, London