ROME – In the heart of the Italian Alps, a unique and eccentric orchestra of instruments made of ice performs weekly concerts for some 200 attendees seeking a cool concert experience, organizers told EFE on Sunday.
“Ice Music Festival,” was launched for the first time this year and will run until March 30 in an igloo on the peak of the Presena Glacier, which sits between the Lombardi and Trentino-Alto Adige regions, Vania Zampatti of the Pontedilegno-Tonale consortium told EFE.
“This is a theater unlike any other, in an unbeatable location that generates a magical and immersive atmosphere,” Zampatti said.
The group hosts concerts four times a week with two sessions on both Tuesdays and Saturdays for an audience of 200.
“The violas, violoncellos, violins, guitars, percussion instruments, drums, xylophones are made out of ice,” Zampatti continued.
On Thursdays, the program offers classical musical performances with Vivaldi and Tchaikovsky scores interspersed with contemporary pieces including works that have been composed specifically for the festival.
The musicians are local and despite the glacial temperatures they perform in, ranging between -10 and -12C (-14 to 10.4F), they manage to produce “celestial sounds,” Zampatti added.
The weekend concert features international musicians with a broad program that caters for most musical tastes including jazz, rock, indie and pop.
Brazilian composer and guitarist Roberto Taufic, Irish violoncellist Naomi Berrill Trio, Emanuele Lapiana Quartet and Italian indie-pop artists and Italian rock group The Bastard Sons of Dionisio all perform at the festival.
American artist Timothy Linhart is the brain behind the project. He is well-known for his passion for using ice as a creative medium and author of many ice-sculptures.
The project first emerged after Linhart visited the Presena Glacier in 2018 where he designed a large ice sculpture of a violoncello.
The sculpture went on an Italian tour across various cities when it was finally chucked into the Mediterranean where it melted into the warm sea water, Zampatti recalled.
But one thing is an ice sculpture and another is actually using it as a musical instrument.
Zampatti said the end result is a fragile and delicate object capable of reproducing music that is “crystal-clear like water.”
Organizers advise punters to sport warm clothes and thick coats, ideally ski gear, to withstand the very cold temperatures inside the igloo where the audience sits on ice seats.
“When audience members arrive we give them cushions they can place on the seats to isolate the cold, as well as also offering blankets,” Zampatti added.
The Presena Glacier peak is between 2,700-3,000 meters (225- 250 feet) high and is surrounded by spectacular panoramic views of the mountains.
The audience takes a cable car up to the peak where they then have to take a short walk to the igloo where the concerts are held.
The concerts have been hugely successful with some sessions are already fully booked out.
Organizers hope to return to the same spot and repeat the festival in 2020