Christa Larwood takes a musical journey though Norway. Along the way she rides one of the world's must stunning rail lines and explores the country's folk traditions.
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Sarah Campbell, BBC News.
Warms the cockles.
Now on BBC News, The Travel Show.
This week on The Travel Show, I am
in Norway, because I have heard of
what must be one of the world's most
unique music festivals, where the
stage and the instruments are made
of ice. So, I am taking the chance
to head off from Oslo to Bergen on a
musical journey on one of the
world's most spectacular railways.
I'm going to look deep into Norway's
routes, trying to get a sense of how
this country's landscapes, culture,
and society are brought to life by
its music. -- roots. At first, I
start my trip in Norway's capital of
Oslo. And on the Oslo waterfront, a
Reformation has been taking place. A
big part of that was the spectacular
building, the Oslo Opera House. It
celebrates its 10th anniversary this
year, and is a symbol of this city's
commitment to the arts. So it is a
perfect place to hear some
traditional Norwegian goat horn.
That is so good!
It is amazing that such a
variety of sounds come out of such a
Yes, it is quite
simple, as you see. It is a bone,
and it is a goat's corn, all at the
wrong way, this way. Actually, it
was not made for making music. The
shepherds had it to keep the and
So this was a warning.
This is not pretty music!
many melodies are written down, as
we know, but some.
Would you say
there is something unique riding
through Norwegian music, and waiters
Nature gives me a loss of
power and a lot of inspiration to
make music. We are quite isolated.
Still, there are people who do this,
try to make their own voice.
So I am
about to head off through the
country to Bergen, listening to
music along the way. It is there a
member should be listening out for?
Is there something should be paying
Try to find some folk
music, some singers, and also go to
small clubs. Look for the small
spots. There are people working all
over the place.
So now I have my
mission, there is a train to catch.
Joining me for the first part of my
trip is Jan, a fanatic and a man who
wrote a book on the bogans violence.
Why did you write this big long book
all about this railway? --
The Bergensbanen is
iconic in Norway and in Europe, I
think. Many people know the name and
know what they will see when the
Along its 308 miles, the
trend never gets challenging but
starting to rain. At its peak of
over 1200 metres, it is one of
your's highest railways, before it
descends steeply into Norway's
second city of Jan. It is elemental
landscape pose a huge challenge, and
an engineering triumph for those
working on the rail during its
construction, between 1894 and 1909,
with about 20 people thought to have
died in the process. At a time when
Norway's independence was always on
the horizon, that the construction
of the Bergensbanen was more than an
added convenience for travellers.
This line connected the east and the
western part of Norway. Before that,
people had to go around and take
boats by the sea, or small horse
roads, through the mountains. So the
trends were opening at Norway. The
construction work was darted in
1898, and at that time, we were
admin by Sweden, and they did not
like this at all, because they
thought it could be used for
So this is a sign
of Norwegian strength, that maybe
was not an approved of?
So in a way, this is a
symbol for the founding of the
Yes. All this
makes it special. You can't find
this in other lines. This is what
As Jan ridges to stop, I
settle in. Three and a half hours
from Oslo, I pull into this town.
But it is not my destination. --
reaches his stop. This town usually
features the eyes busy festival. But
on a go upwards, almost 500 metres
higher, to the new home of Finse. --
the Ice Music Festival. You really
feel and see it in the air. It is
cold here. And it is this cold, the
icy conditions and the elevation,
that led explorers like Shackleton
to train here before going on there
at expeditions. Word is today will
reach a low of -23 Celsius tonight.
So I should write up. -- rug up.
What makes this festival extra
special is that the instruments are
actually made on the day, from
nearby ice. Among the line-up this
year is everything from ice horns to
ice drums, and ice didgeridoos. The
concert is only hours away, and here
you are making the instruments. This
has to be an unusual thing for a
For me it is not. For most
musicians it is. Good sending ice is
the most difficult part. You cannot
just go to your freezer. You cannot
go to the next lake. Ice is like
wine - there are good years and bad
So why ice? What inspired
It is nearly 20 years
as the first time I tried eyes. And
I found the sound so fantastically
beautiful. -- ice. With this water,
you can drink it after the concert.
All we can do is give it back to
nature, where it belongs, and also,
the ice reminds me that we need to
treat ice so gentle not to break it.
It is like how we treat nature.
is this happening in Norway, in
particular, aside from all the ice?
At it one of the reasons we can do
this in Norway is that we are very
lucky that we have for many years at
a government that was to support
music. This makes it possible for a
musician like me to work with
contemporary improvised music, to
survive, to be even be able to build
a house that they buy a house. It
allows me to experiment. -- that I
have been able to buy a house.
This is an ice-aphone.
sound is phenomenal.
Do you like it?
That is lovely. Any Jedi could have
Very carefully. -- any chance
I could have a go.
I also will
demonstrate no ability. You may as
given to a child.
This is great! -- you may as
well give it to a child.
But one of the biggest challenges
are putting on this festival is the
construction of the venue itself.
And ice concert Hall. -- mandatory.
And this professor oversees the
construction. He and his students
have battled conditions for six days
to create a solid structure. -- An
ice. Each day's work has resulted in
We started with plan a and
ended up with plan y. Because every
day, you know, it is like you're
climbing wall, slippery, and
full-back down again. Next day you
start again. -- Finse. But that is
how it is and that is the challenge.
You need to work with the forces,
because you can never beat them. --
fall back. When we work with them,
you know, it is like having a good
It seems lead your team is
working very, very hard.
We will see how it works out. We
just need to see how it goes. We
have some hours left.
So as evening
approaches, the finishing touches
are fast being made around the site.
I really like it because it is kind
of the sound of nature. So it
doesn't sound like anything else you
have ever heard. So people are
really surprise when they hear it
for the first time. You don't get to
practise, so the music gets made on
stage in front of the audience, and
that Israeli special. Many people
are like, what, is this possible?
That is critical. -- and that is
really special. I guess there is a
lot of folk music on it. It is very
Nordic, with the ice and the snow at
the cold winters. Just in the nick
of time, we gather for it to make an
evening of ice music.
-- we gather
for an evening of ice music.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
That was amazing. Such a bonkers
sound scape and amazing to think
that although were made from rice.
It is also an interesting way to
experience the landscape of Norway,
freezing cold with a full moon
overhead. I am frozen through. It is
time to head in.
Next morning, the festival continues
without me as I returned to the
Bergensbanen for the next part of my
journey. Travelling on this stretch
of the line, you start to appreciate
the vast landscapes that this
country has to offer. And I cannot
imagine a better way of experiencing
them than this.
MORNING BY GREIG PLAYS
well, my train has arrived at its
destination but my musical journey
across Norway is not yet finished a
close I am in Bergen, a cultural
hotspot and a great way to
experience the great musical
heritage of Norway.
Edvard Grieg, Norway is pot most
well loved composer. Here, a museum
to him has preserved and restored
the grounds where he wants worked.
-- once worked.
You can see now we
will enter the house and this is the
This year will be a
milestone for the mad as it will be
150 years since he wrote his famous
piano concerto. He really was an
appreciated composer in his
We know that in Great
Britain he was one of the most
popular living composers in his
The second part of the 19th century
was going together with all of this
national movement in Norway and
Norway was, by then, a country
together with Sweden with one king
living in Sweden and he found very
young and fresh style and I think
that built upon those dance rhythms
and folk music elements in his
bigger compositions. He looked upon
folk songs as something universal.
They survive from generation to
generation and if you slip through
the board as you can find the same
in folk music.
And some of the folk
music that inspired him can still be
heard today. One of the best ways to
experience it is with dance. This
dance company performs contemporary
dance all the way around Norway and
beyond that is inspired by nature
and traditional Norwegian folk
roots. They have agreed to show me
some of the traditional elements
shared in a traditional dance.
The dance is mostly a show off
lands. 100 years ago women or also
did that dance. It is mostly boys or
men doing the dance because we want
to. We want to impress the other men
or women. Put your right foot in
front of the left. Side words.
Believe me, this is harder than it
And if you jump a little on
each step one, two. Yes. Nice? And
I think I am getting
hang of it.
One, two, one, two.
then we can come down here. No! So
what is the relationship between the
dance and the music?
The fiddle is
our national instrument. Some people
say the fiddle, the music came
because of the dance and some say it
was the other way. I think they
depend on each other. For me and for
many it is very important to use the
music dancing and the music makes me
want to do suddenly some steps and
everything. It is life. Nothing
planned, it is just happening. Nice!
Back in the old days they used the
ceilings to kick down a coin or keep
They kicked the
The houses were smaller
back in those days. In the 1800s the
military started competitions to try
and kick a hat from a stick and it
was about who could kick the
highest. And then it was
incorporated in the dance. So we do
it as a part of the dance and, of
course, it must be a good kick and
the higher it is, the better it is.
Everyone in Norway, I think if I say
the name of the drams, they think of
kicking the hat, that it is the man
-- Mangold. At the dance is the main
goal, kicking the hat is just
topping it. -- they think that
kicking the hat is the main goal.
Finally, I wanted to get a sense of
where all of this is leading. In a
former meat factory a short walk
from the city centre, it serves as a
venue and melting pot for artists of
all types in the city. This creative
hub is home to the studios of
electronic, just, hip-hop and many
other types of music and it is where
much of Norway's future music is
being thrashed out.
especially there is some new mixing
of old traditions with very new
electronic and experimental music.
This man has a studio here and
played saxophone in tonight 's big.
Tonight we play with a
guitar player. It is ambient
experimental something, you know. I
think it has a lot to do with the
size of the city you in urban. Only
a few people play things so you have
to co-operate. -- city here again.
Bergen I feel like I have
rediscovered this place through its
music. It is a country constantly
inspired by nature. In treasures its
traditions but is not afraid to look
forward. Where artist are free to
experiment and supported as a
crucial part of society and were
distinctive sounds can be found in
the smallest of communities. Is the
Bergensbanen showed me Norway's
muscle its music has shown me its
heart and soul.
A special edition of the Travel Show from Norway, as Christa Larwood takes a musical journey from Oslo to Bergen along one of the world's must stunning rail lines, the Bergensbanen. Christa looks into the roots of the Norway's music and tries to get a sense of how it's landscapes, culture and society are brought to life through its music. Along the way, she takes in Norway's Ice Music Festival and explores the classical music and dance inspired by the country's folk traditions.