By Barbara Goio and Isabel Conway
The music comes from the ice: it’s not magic but the second edition of a strange and beautiful event called “Ice Music”, one of winter’s highlights in Passo del Tonale, northern Italy.
The setting is a huge igloo theatre between Trentino and Lombardy at 2,600 metres altitude on the Presena Glacier. This unusual concert hall will host some fifty concerts until March. The musical instruments are also made of ice, a delicate material with a unique crystal sound. last year’s sold out concerts, seats three hundred at a time, were a huge success attracting the attention of CNN and Al Jazeera. A word of caution. This is no venue for dressing up in your glitzy best. Padded jackets, ski pants, gloves and bobble hat are de rigour fashion here.
The music has to be played at -8 Celsius degrees of temperature so that the instruments do not melt. “Ice, compared to wood, is quick to sculpt but incredibly fragile. In order to create my instruments, I must put my bare hands in a bucket of wet snow, at -10”, explained Nicola Segatta, musician and violin maker.
The Ice Dome where the concerts are hosted lasts for three months and is constructed from a form of huge balloons on which snow is sprayed. Then Mother Nature freezes it all, the structure that host the concerts, is supposed to last for three months: big balloons act as formwork, then snow is sprayed on, and finally Mother Nature freezes all.During some concerts ice puppets designed by the biggest puppeteer in the world, Mimmo Cuticchio add to the mystical and surreal background. Tim Linhart, the artist who designed and built the igloo and the 16 musical instruments said: “It’s like entering a concert hall in Paradise”.
Passo del Tonale is one of Italy’s highest resorts and a favourite with Irish winter sport holidaymakers blessed by its beautiful location, good beginner and intermediate slopes and snow sure conditions. Topflight (www.topflight.ie) offer a range of accommodation in different price ranges, including direct flights from Dublin with transfers to Passo del Tonale. The unique Ice Concerts are held every Thursday (15 – 16.30) and Saturday (16 – 18) until March. For further information see https://www.pontedilegnotonale.com/EN/home-winter/ Aer Lingus (www.aerlingus.com) and Ryan Air www.ryanair.com operate direct flights from Dublin to the nearest airport of Milan Bergamo, flights from €37 one way.