Songs of the Ice by Outi Tarkiainen

Songs of the Ice by Outi Tarkiainen
© Lars Skaaning

I have a fundamental longing for the northernmost regions within me
Outi Tarkiainen


On March 9,  Songs of the Ice (reduced orchestration) by Outi Tarkiainen receives its German premiere at Theater Regensburg. Tom Woods will be conducting the philharmonic orchestra Regensburg.

The work is dedicated to the Okjökull glacier, Iceland’s first victim of climate change when declared dead in 2014. Its memorial plaque from April 2019 reads:

A letter to the future
Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier.
In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path.
This monument is to acknowledge that we know
what is happening and what needs to be done.
Only you will know if we did it.


Tarkiainen describes the swelling of the ice in winter and its shrinking in summer as the ice breathing with the seasons. Now however, climate change is disrupting this natural balance and is ‘forcing the ice to give way’.

This intense connection to the northernmost reaches of the Earth finds expression in her music’s engrossing combination of beauty and brutality, richness and sparseness. As Tarkianen writes in her programme note, Songs of the Ice ‘begins with the rumbling sound of ice’, waves growing stronger until ‘finally breaking and shattering into clear crystals’. The soul of the ice, represented by howling wind solos, is lamenting and crying out. Finally, ‘the strings bring consolation’, and a new cycle begins anew, ‘but never the same as before’.

Commissioned by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Songs of the Ice (reduced orchestration) had its debut in 2020 at the Helsinki Music Centre in Finland.

The premiere is followed by another performance taking place on March 13, for more information see the website of Theater Regensburg.

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