Ice instruments ring out coolest music in Norway

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Terje Lsungset (C), the founder and artistic director of the Ice Music Festival, performs with a musical instrument made purely of ice during the festival on February 2, 2018 in the small mountain village of Finse in the municipality of Ulvik in southern Norway. (AFP)
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Terje Lsungset, the founder and artistic director of the Ice Music Festival, shapes a musical instrument made of ice outside his workshop ahead of the festival on February 2, 2018 in the small mountain village of Finse in the municipality of Ulvik in southern Norway. (AFP)
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Terje Lsungset, the founder and artistic director of the Ice Music Festival, tests a musical instrument made of ice outside his workshop ahead of the festival on February 2, 2018 in the small mountain village of Finse in the municipality of Ulvik in southern Norway. (AFP)
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Terje Lsungset, the founder and artistic director of the Ice Music Festival, tests a musical instrument made of ice outside his workshop ahead of the festival on February 2, 2018 in the small mountain village of Finse in the municipality of Ulvik in southern Norway. (AFP)
Updated 05 February 2018
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Ice instruments ring out coolest music in Norway

FINSE, Norway: Inside a giant igloo in a snowy Norwegian village, the sound of a horn rings out, warming the mood of a freezing audience, huddled together in -24 Celsius.
But the four musicians performing are even colder: the instruments they are playing are all made of ice.
The xylophone, claves and wind instruments have been painstakingly carved from ice blocks extracted from a frozen lake, and are now part of a finger-numbing performance at the 13th Ice Music Festival in the mountain village of Finse.
The problem 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.
Wearing thick wool gloves, he blows warm air into his ice-sculpted horn, illuminated under blue and turquoise lights.
Next to him, a singer with an angelic voice covers her mouth with a scarf to stay warm, while a bass player removes his gloves so he can pull the strings on his ice-made instrument.
The setting of the festival, 195 kilometers (121 miles) west of Oslo, is not for anyone sensitive to a shivering climate.
Held between February 2 and 3 inside an igloo built solely of ice, dozens of people wearing clothing fit to survive freezing mountain weather sit on snow benches while cheering and wrapping their arms around each other.
As the night grows older, a band member blows into a long ice wind instrument shaped like an Australian didgeridoo, vibrating across the venue.
“It’s a fine line between art and madness,” Emile Holba, a UK-based photographer and crew member, tells AFP as he bursts into laughter.
“Things can go wrong, instruments can break...the audience likes the purity of it,” he adds.
The festival has previously been held in Geilo, a ski resort in the central mountain region of Norway.
But organizers say the weather there has become milder, making it difficult to build ice venues and harder to prevent the instruments from melting.
“This winter... the ice was really slushy and difficult to deal with,” Isungset said.
“It’s the first time I have seen ice like this.”
In search of guaranteed freezing temperatures, the festival moved further west to Finse, a 30 minute train ride from Geilo.
Surrounded by mountains framing a glacier, the area was used to create the snow planet “Hoth” in the opening scene of Star War’s movie “The Empire Strikes Back.”
The village was also the base for Antarctic expedition training by British explorer Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922) and his Norwegian counterpart Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930).
“It’s kind of otherworldly...there is magic there,” says Holba.
Preparing the festival is no simple task.
It took organizers a week to build the igloo and the ice needed to be sourced and collected by a crew of more than 20 people.
Large chunks were removed from a nearby lake and the musicians used chainsaws, hammers and chisels to carefully sculpt the instruments.
“It’s just music....and trying to create something out of nearly nothing,” Isungset said.
After the festival, some of the instruments do become nearly nothing again, the ice dripping away back into the earth.
But a few of the ice-creations do survive.
If deemed to be in good enough shape, the instruments are stored inside a freezer, waiting in frozen isolation, to be used again the following year.


Extreme Easter: Flogging, crucifixions in Philippines

Updated 19 April 2019
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Extreme Easter: Flogging, crucifixions in Philippines

  • Nearly 80 percent of people in the Philippines are Catholic
  • Catholicism is a legacy of the nation’s 300 years of Spanish colonial rule that ended at the turn of the 20th century

SAN FERNANDO, Philippines: Hundreds of barefoot men beat themselves with flails and at least 10 were to be nailed onto crosses throughout Good Friday in a blood-soaked display of religious fervor in the Philippines.
Frowned upon by the Church, the ritual crucifixions and self-flagellation are extreme affirmations of faith peformed every Easter in Asia’s Catholic outpost.
Barefoot men wearing crowns of twigs walked silently on the side of a village road in the scorching tropical heat of the northern Philippines, flogging their backs with bamboo strips tied to a length of rope.
While many of the 80 million Filipino Catholics spend Good Friday at church or with family, others go to these extreme lengths to atone for sins or seek divine intervention in a spectacle that has become a major tourist attraction.
“This is a religious vow. I will do this every year for as long as I am able,” 38-year-old truck driver Resty David, who has been self-flagellating for half his life at his village in the northern Philippines, told AFP.
He said he also hoped it would convince God to cure his cancer-stricken brother.
Blood and sweat soaked through the penitents’ pants with some spectators grimacing with each strike of the lash.
Some hid behind their companions to avoid the splatter of gore and ripped flesh.
Many in the crowds had driven for hours to witness the frenzied climax of the day’s gory spectacle, when believers allow themselves to be nailed to crosses in a re-enactment the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
“I’m a little bit overwhelmed. It’s very intense, I haven’t expected something like this,” German tourist Annika Ehlers, 24, told AFP.
Ehlers said she had witnessed the first of 10 scheduled crucifixions during the day in villages around the city of San Fernando, about 70 kilometers (40) miles) north of Manila.
Eight centimeter (three-inch) spikes are driven through both the man’s hands and feet before the wooden cross is raised briefly for the crowds to see. After that the nails are pulled out and he is given medical treatment.
The Church says the faithful should spend Lent in quiet prayer and reflection.
“The crucifixion and death of Jesus are more than enough to redeem humanity from the effects of sins. They are once in a lifetime events that need not be repeated,” Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines official Father Jerome Secillano said.
“Holy Week.... is not the time to showcase man’s propensity for entertainment and Pharisaical tendencies,” he added.
Nearly 80 percent of people in the Philippines are Catholic, a legacy of the nation’s 300 years of Spanish colonial rule that ended at the turn of the 20th century.