The University of Melbourne
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How to Grow Your Own Glacier

posted on 2023-07-14, 06:38 authored by Melody EotvosMelody Eotvos

Genghis Khan was a conqueror. During his lifetime and after (via his many grandsons) he founded the largest contiguous empire in history. There are stories, however, of certain regions that escaped Khan’s conquest. It is said that the people of these sanctuaries were able to create impassable walls of ice that prevented the armies from accessing their lands. In short, they were able to grow glaciers.
Glaciers are known to be ancient, wild, and slowly transforming geological forces. In present times, across the world the native glaciers that we know of are not doing so well. In light of their peril it is interesting to learn that in response to the advanced warming of our climate, humans have been able to still use the very factual practice of growing glaciers in order to preserve water in environments that wouldn’t normally be able to sustain vegetation.
In the regions where glacier-growing has been practiced for centuries, it is believed that the glaciers are not only alive, but that they also have different genders. In these places, to ‘breed’ a new glacier you need to graft together (or ‘marry’) a male and female glacial fragment. They are then bound together with variety of local substances such as charcoal and husk, after which point, under accumulating snow, ice, and water, they slowly grow into fully active glaciers.
This piece explores a scenario of controlling and containing something seemingly wild, as well as the idea of grafting together two elements in order to build something greater and more sustainable.

Work Details

Year: 2019

Instrumentation: Flute (doubling piccolo), oboe, clarinet in B flat, bass clarinet in B flat, bassoon, 2 horns in F, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, percussion (2 players), timpani, harp, piano, strings (

Duration: 9 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Commission note: Commissioned by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Commissioned as part of the 21st Century Cybec Composers Program

First performance: by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra


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