The sound of the Arctic

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»Musical skis« – could be the slogan for the Arctic Sounds music festival that took place just after the Arctic Circle Race

Text: Mia Chemnitz, student of journalism, greenland today July 2016

At this time of year, where the daylight returns and King Winter releases his cold grip on the town of Sisimiut near the Arctic Circle, energy flows into the local community. It is time for the major spring events.

The snow still blankets the landscape. In the middle of town, Spejder Lake is still frozen. The calendar shows April will soon be here. A dog sled glides silently over the ice. The silence is broken only by the roaring of snowmobiles and the wolf-like howls of the dogs that have the day off today.

The entire population of Sisimiut stood on this lake last week with cold feet, seeing off Arctic Circle Race participants from all over the world as they departed on their adventures. Now the lake and the culture centre that lies on its banks are the venue for the next big spring event; the Arctic Sounds music festival. Although focus in recent days has been on the ski race, the festival has jumped the gun.

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The opening concert
At festivals around the world it is an art in itself to decide on the opening name. In Sisimiut, the arrangers took a different approach. The week up to the festival was filled with talent development and cultural meetings and it was the result of these meetings that the public experienced at the opening concert.

The jump start to the festival began with a wide variety of music workshops with participants from all over the north. The opening concert featured an intimate experience, where the artists performed together in new combinations of twos and threes to present twenty of their brand new songs.

Some songs were written several days in advance, while others were finished at the last minute in the backstage room just before the concert began. It was a special experience for the public to get so close to something that was still very »fragile«. The listeners were invited into a universe which is otherwise known only to songwriters.

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Closer
The opening concert was like a symbol of the rest of Arctic Sounds. It was a festival of intimacy. The public and the artists felt this. 53 concerts in four days in a town with 5,500 inhabitants meant there was music everywhere.

Arctic Sounds is unique because of the music and culture that it involves. It is therefore important to the arrangers that as many as possible from the local community are able to take part in the experience. That includes those who are not able to make their way to the concerts. Free concerts were therefore held in the nearest village of Itilleq with its 112 inhabitants, as well as at a retirement home, in shops and in schools.

As soon as there was a gap in the festival programme, the visitors grabbed the chance to see the sights of Sisimiut. Many artists took an afternoon trip with a dog sled, others tried snowmobiles. Fortunately, they all accomplished what they wanted, because during the four days of the festival, the weather changed suddenly to spring.

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Visit Sisimiut
The temperature rose to above freezing. The snow on the rooftops melted quickly in the rays of the sun and the first – perhaps over-optimistic – ducks landed in the same lake the dogsleds had driven over just a few days before.

Spring is a vibrant time to visit Sisimiut. This year, it was possible to experience one of the toughest ski races in the world, an ambitious music festival and the town’s first big Gay Pride Parade. All during the first week and a half of April.

If you like extreme sports or big cultural meetings themed around music, this time of year is perfect for you. Next year’s Arctic Sounds will be held on 6th – 9th April 2017 and the arrangers are working on chartering an aircraft from Canada.

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Arctic Sounds
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6th – 9th April 2017

Arctic Circle Race
acr.gl
31st March – 2nd April 2017

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