Ice Music Festival 2011 – Day 1

Last night I slept amazingly, partially due to my tiredness but also due to the cosiness of the hotel room (I even missed breakfast). In the morning I strolled around the town of Geilo to see what it’s like. According to Pål Knutsson Medhus, the manager of the festival, the habitants in the municipality of Hol, the general area the Geilo is situated, are about 5000; during the weekends, they can be up to 25000; and during Christmas season it has been reported that they rise up to 50000. As a ski resort, it has loads of places where you can ski, rent or buy equipment etc. Here is an announcement board I saw in town, with the attractions of the area: Premier League screening, Ice Music festival and take away sushi.

Back to the performance place, situated near the Kikut ski centre, the Isleiks are ready. Bill, the sculptor, finished both of them successfully. The traditional stringed instrument Langeleik is mainly used in festivities that involve dancing. Originally, it’s made of wood and 8 steel strings in the form of a box zither, and is played vertically by holding down the strings with the left hand and plucking them with a plectrum. Bill has kept a wooden head so that it’s possible to tune the instrument.

Photo by B. H. Muns

Knut and Ole Aastad Bråten have been playing the langeleik since they were in their teens (they must be around their 30s now). The isleik was a challenge for them. They told me that its sound is quite different than the wooden langeleik, it reminds them of “Music from Asia”, hence they changed the tuning a bit to reflect that sound. Here is the first song they performed along with local singer Solfrid Nestegard Gjeldokk and Skarvebarna, a kids choir.

During lunch, I got to talk to Terje Isungset, the local musician/composer/performer, one of the inspirers of Ice Music. I’ve also talked to some of the volunteers, Ingrid, a Colombian architect who lives in Oslo, and Juan, a Spanish designer. It’s important to see their perspective on the festival and ice music. I’ve also talked to the many English people who volunteer at the festival; as it seems, it’s all done by word of mouth. They all knew someone who had worked on previous festivals and they decided to help along this year.

I am not sure how many people showed tonight at the first concert under the full moon light. It must have been more than 30 and less than 50. They all seem to enjoy it despite the cold.

The concert started at 8pm and finished at 8:40 with Terje’s jamming on icespiel. The instruments were left to go back to their natural element, water – as Bill says – but also because the designer of the wooden heads of the isleiks needed them back (a statement shared by the Bråten brothers).


Photo by B. H. Muns

So… Looking forward to tomorrow!


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