Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Two hundred kilometers (125 miles) north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden sits the Icehotel. More accurately, for about half the year the Icehotel sits there, near the River Torne and the village ofJukkasj╬┤rvi. For the Icehotel is literally made of ice created from the meter thick layer that covers the river. Each spring the hotel melts and returns from whence it came. T
hWhat started as a one room hotel to serve visitors making the trek to the inaugural Art-ic exhibition in 1989 - an exhibition planned to lure tourists to the area in the months when they usually stayed away - the Icehotel now has nearly 50 rooms, as well as a bar, cinema, and chapel (click for plan). If sleeping in a hotel whose walls, columns, roof, and even furniture are entirely made of ice weren't enough, over forty artists and designers contribute designs to the suites and outdoor spaces.
l oLike snowflakes and the hotel itself (whose design is attributed to Ake Larsson), the chapel is never the same twice. This year's design round dome with apses. Five "ice pillars" carry the dome's load and allow light to enter into the large igloo-like space. According to the designers, the theme is one of "creation through vegetation in the Weave of Life, the Tree of Life and Omfalos; the the center of the world and its navel." The chapel has been used for weddings in the past, making for a truly unique ceremony...and honeymoon.perators like to say "the entire Icehotel is on loan from the mighty Torne River."



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IGUDESMAN & JOO — A unique collaboration

Alek­sey Igudes­man and Hyung-ki Joo are two clas­si­cal musi­cians who have taken the world by storm with their unique and hilar­i­ous the­atri­cal shows, which com­bine com­edy with clas­si­cal music and pop­u­lar cul­ture. Their clips on YouTube, to date, have gath­ered over 15 mil­lion hits, and they have appeared live on tele­vi­sion in    sev­eral coun­tries, includ­ing an exclu­sive inter­view for CNN. Equally com­fort­able per­form­ing in clas­si­cal con­cert halls, as well as in sta­di­ums in front of crowds of 18,000, their uni­fied dream is to make clas­si­cal music acces­si­ble to a wider and younger audience.
Alek­sey and Hyung-ki met at the age of twelve, at the Yehudi Menuhin School, in Eng­land, and since then, have remained strong friends and writ­ing part­ners. In 2004, fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of lumi­nar­ies such as Vic­tor Borge and Dud­ley Moore, they cre­ated their first ground­break­ing show, “A Lit­tle Night­mare Music”. Since then, they have per­formed with major sym­phony orches­tras around the world and have played at some of the worldÔÇÖs biggest stages and festivals.
Many of clas­si­cal musicÔÇÖs biggest names, such as Emanuel Ax, Janine Jansen, Gidon Kre­mer, Mis­cha Maisky, Vik­to­ria Mullova, and Julian Rach­lin, have joined them in their zany musi­cal sketches, and recently, they per­formed exclu­sively for one of clas­si­cal musicÔÇÖs great­est con­duc­tors, Bernard Haitink, who there­after said, “Igudes­man and Joo played at my 80th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions. I nearly died laugh­ing. IÔÇÖd like to invite them back for my 85th, but that might be con­sid­ered reckless…Great musi­cians, great fun.”
Their per­for­mances reach well out­side of the clas­si­cal field and last year they toured Europe with leg­ends of the pop world such as Robin Gibb (Bee Gees), Midge Ure (Ultra­vox and co-creator of Live Aid and Band Aid), Tears for Fears, Sim­ple Minds, and Kim Wilde.
Indi­vid­u­ally, Alek­sey Igudes­man has worked with musi­cians rang­ing from Acad­emy® Award win­ning Hol­ly­wood com­poser, Hans Zim­mer, to multi Grammy® Award win­ning vocal­ist, Bobby McFer­rin. Hyung-ki Joo, has worked with Acad­emy® Award win­ning com­poser, Van­ge­lis, and was cho­sen by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Billy Joel, to arrange and record JoelÔÇÖs clas­si­cal com­po­si­tions on a CD, which reached no.1 on the Bill­board Charts. Alek­sey and Hyung-ki have also col­lab­o­rated with the actor, Roger Moore, on sev­eral occa­sions for UNICEF. Recently, they per­formed with John Malkovich in “The Music Critic”
In 2010, the Ger­man TV Broad­cast­ing Chan­nel, ZDF, aired Igudes­man & JooÔÇÖs doc­u­men­tary, or rather “Mock­u­men­tary”, titled “Every­thing You Always Wanted to Know About Clas­si­cal Music”.


 Alek­sey Igudes­man was born in Leningrad at a very young age. He has never won any                com­pe­ti­tions, mainly because he has never entered any. Dur­ing his stud­ies at the pres­ti­gious Yehudi Menuhin School, he read the entire plays of Bern­hard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, and Anton Chekhov, which didnÔÇÖt improve his vio­lin play­ing, but made him feel fool­ishly some­what supe­rior to other less intel­lec­tu­ally endowed, yet harder prac­tis­ing, colleagues.
After study­ing with Boris Kuschnir at the Vienna Con­ser­va­toire and being told many times by many peo­ple that they were rather wor­ried about his future, he embarked on a suc­cess­ful career play­ing, com­pos­ing, and arrang­ing for his string trio, “Tri­ol­ogy”, record­ing sev­eral CDÔÇÖs for BMG, work­ing in Hol­ly­wood with Acad­emy Award® win­ner Hans Zim­mer, and per­forming with Bobby McFer­rin, Julian Rach­lin, Janine Jansen, Roger Moore and other peo­ple who are less famous, but just as great.
Alek­sey Igudes­man writes a lot of music. Often he goes to bed writ­ing and gets up writ­ing. He some­times feels a lit­tle inse­cure about his music, although it is pub­lished by Uni­ver­sal Edi­tion, and tries to com­pen­sate for it by being rather extro­vert. In fact, his psy­chi­a­trist tells him that he is inse­cure about a lot of things. Alek­sey is not so sure about that.
Back at school he met his “IGUDESMAN & JOO” part­ner, Richard Hyung-ki Joo. After a few ini­tial small dif­fer­ences, result­ing in sev­eral peo­ple hold­ing them both back from smash­ing chairs and music stands on each otherÔÇÖs heads, Joo offered Igudes­man some fish and chips, which he sim­ply could not refuse. This in turn led to col­lab­o­ra­tion over many years, which cul­mi­nated in the cre­ation of “A Lit­tle Night­mare Music”, a show they tour together mak­ing people laugh.
After Gidon Kre­mer heard them sev­eral times, he wanted to join in the fun, so to speak. After a while Vik­to­ria Mullova, Emanuel Ax, Mar­tin Fr?Âst, Felic­ity Lott and sev­eral other flash musi­cians also felt like a good laugh, but this is a story for another day…
Alek­sey Igudes­man plays on a Santo Seraphin vio­lin from the year 1717, which is kindly loaned to him by ERSTE BANK.


Hyung-ki Joo was born. He is British, but looks Korean, or the other way around, or both. He showed his first signs of a sense of com­edy whilst nappy-changing and shortly there­after, showed his love for music when his par­ents would find him at the record store lis­ten­ing for hours to every­thing from Mozart to Bee Gees. (Although the two are never to be con­fused, Hyung-ki is often heard singing “Don Gio­vanni” in the style of Barry Gibb).
He started piano lessons at the age of eight and a half and two years later won a place at the Yehudi Menuhin School. There, he dis­cov­ered that he was among geniuses and child prodi­gies and was con­vinced he would be kicked out of school, year after year. In fact, he was not kicked “out” but kicked “around” by teach­ers and fel­low stu­dents, such as Alek­sey Igudes­man. After these painful expe­ri­ences, Joo invented a new type of piano play­ing known as “Karate Piano”. No mat­ter how dif­fi­cult his years at the school may have been, it only strength­ened his love of music, and he also realised that the world of clas­si­cal music had lit­tle to do with the spirit in which the music was cre­ated and began dream­ing of a way to bring this great music to a wider and newer audi­ence- a dream which has recently been realised through his show: “A Lit­tle Nightmare Music”.
Hyung-ki, spelt R-I-C-H-A-R-D, and pro­nounced “Dick”, is the only Korean Jew, (spelt J-O-O) in the world. Hyung-ki has small hands, (but only hands small), and there­fore finds some piano reper­toire quite dif­fi­cult to play, such as the music of Rach­mani­nov, who had Big Hands. Any­way, even with this small hin­drance, he hap­pily per­forms cham­ber music, recitals, con­cer­tos, his own com­po­si­tions, and any­thing else that includes a piano part.
Besides per­form­ing, com­pos­ing, laugh­ing, brush­ing his teeth at break-neck speed, and writ­ing com­edy with his long time friend and duo part­ner, Alek­sey Igudes­man, JooÔÇÖs pas­sion for teach­ing has led him to develop a per­sonal style of work­shop, enti­tled “The Inner and Outer ***** for a Musi­cian”, which aims to encour­age and inspire young musi­cians to expe­ri­ence music and life as a musi­cian, from dif­fer­ent perspectives.
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