Ice musician plays music inspired by the Canadian Arctic

One of the "coolest" concerts of the year took place in Iqaluit this weekend, as Ice Music returned to Nunavut's capital. The musical group from Norway plays instruments made entirely from freshwater ice.

Norwegian group carves ice blocks into instruments

Norwegian Terje Isungset plays an instrument made entirely of ice. The musician says it took him most of Saturday to carve a similar horn in Iqaluit, because the ice was so prone to breaking. (Bjørn Furuseth/Ice music)

One of the "coolest" concerts of the year took place in Iqaluit this weekend, as Ice Music returned to Nunavut's capital. And this time they played songs inspired by their first trip to the city. 

The musical group from Norway plays instruments made entirely from freshwater ice. Terje Isungset, who has been playing ice instruments for more than 15 years, leads the ensemble. 

There were some tense moments on Saturday, as one of the blocks of ice slipped from the hands of three men as they carried it on stage and broke into several pieces.

But using a bit of water, the crew was able to 'glue' the block back together. 

"I've never played with such fragile ice," said Isungset, as he played an instrument that looked much like a simple block of ice, but sounded like a bass drum.

He also told the packed Joamie School gymnasium that he spent most of Saturday creating a horn out of ice, which kept breaking.

In preparation for the concert, volunteers in Nunavut's capital used a chainsaw to cut blocks of ice in -30 C weather on Thursday. 

"We got to get all our guys together and we lift at the same time, it's like in the olden days," said volunteer Dan Gardner of the effort required to manoeuvre the big blocks of ice. He was helped by Jordan Charlie and Kelly PalikKoochiakjuke

Isungset performed in Iqaluit in 2013 as part of a concert series organized by the local arts organization, Alianait.

Ice Music's newest CD, Meditations, includes several songs that were recorded at the old Hudson Bay buildings in Apex, Nunavut.

For the first song of the night on Saturday, he invited Rachel Michael, an 18-year-old Iqaluit high school student, on stage to throat sing.

A musician plays an ice instrument beside the old Hudson's Bay Company building in Iqaluit. (Emilie Holba/Ice music)

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.