“I go up to a very high place in the mountains.
In the shadows next to a stream I set up my
little workshop under a couple of tarps,” says,
Taos, N.M. ice-instrument maker Tim Linhart.
While Linhart creates his fully functioning
14-piece ice orchestra, his wife, Birgitta
Linhart, oversees construction of the Celestial
Sphere concert hall — a complex of giant
igloos with holes at the top for audience and
performers’ body heat to escape.
“We make the orchestra, concert hall, install
laser lighting and the sound system, and are
putting on music six weeks after we start ... it’s
a super explosive time frame,” Tim explains.
Unlike other makers who carve instruments
from blocks of ice, Linhart uses an additive
method to create many of his. (His giant
xylophones and a few structural components
are exceptions.) He packs a slush of snow
and water onto various forms in the shape of
drums, pipes, and his ingenious Rolandophone
(a unique “compression instrument” that’s
a sort of hybrid marimba, drum, and pipe
organ). When the slush hardens, it becomes
a “white ice” shell, which is then separated
from the form.
Linhart’s hand-sculpted stringed instruments have standard necks and a strip of
wood running down their bodies. They are
delicate; the ice is shaved very thin so that
it’s vulnerable and flexible under the tension
of the strings. “It’s like playing chicken with
an explosion: the closer you get to beautiful
sound, the closer you are to the explosion.”
Other makers let their ice instruments melt
away, but Linhart takes another approach.
“All the players can hammer their favorite
instrument to bits. ... There’s a joy in destroying perfection. It’s only ice — it’ll come back
next year.” —Kim Bailey
» Celestial Concert: icemusic.us
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