Commissioner Lahti Green Capital of Europe 2021
Opus number 77
Category Orchestral music
Year 2021
Duration 10 min
Orchestration 2222-4331-timp-perc-harp-strings
Availability Gehrmans Musikförlag

Program note

ICE for Sinfonia Lahti is commissioned in honour of Lahti being the Green Capital of Europe 2021. The piece is inspired by melting ice and in the piece we can hear how landscapes and winter become ever shorter, in the end while alarm signals are chiming and all possible breaks are put into action. Through this piece I try to express how global warming as well as the collapse of ecosystems and the ever faster growing tempo of the world, is killing the beautiful snow and ice structures of millions of years, and how the heart of the earth is fighting for its existence through each beat. In this piece I have also tried to describe what happens if we WILL take action: you can hear a rewind, how action has impact and can make us go back to winters. The name ICE stands both for ice and for “In Case of Emergency”.



Teosto Prize 2022

ICE has won the Teosto Prize 2022. Teosto is the Finnish copyright organisation for music creators, composers, and publishers. The Teosto Prize is awarded since 2003 to “bold, original and innovative musical works” and it is one of the biggest art awards in the Nordic countries.

Motivation by the jury for nominating ICE for the Teosto Prize

“Cecilia Damström’s work as a composer is characterised by the open-minded updating of contemporary classical music to match the world of the 2020s. Composed for a symphony orchestra, ICE describes what the melting of the ice feels like in times of climate change. The work’s sound masses creak and glimmer, sound the alarm and go away. The soulful bath of sounds scrubs the mind, challenges the ear and looks to the future.”

The nominees were chosen by a preliminary selection panel consisting of music journalist and non-fiction writer Mervi Vuorela (Chair), journalist and radio host Antti Granlund, music journalist Lotta Emanuelsson, music researcher and music journalist Mikael Mattila, journalist Katri Kallionpää, DJ and journalist Tytti Viljanen and musicologist, Associate Professor and PhD Susanna Välimäki.

Motivation by the jury for ICE winning the Teosto Prize

“ICE creates cinematic, powerful and threatening images that flow as the orchestra’s strong expressions convey the events with the certainty of a force of nature. The symphony orchestra’s various instrument groups form large and uniform masses of sound that churn and hiss until fading into the skyward sounds of a harp. Even though the work is a strong statement on climate change and forms a whole with an ice sculpture designed by the architect Erkko Aarti, the composition can also stand on its own as a powerful work of music.”

The winners of the Teosto Prize were chosen by a four-member jury consisting of the 2020 Teosto Prize winners, artist Jesse Markin and composer and producer Totte Rautiainen, as well as members invited by Teosto’s management team, Rector of the University of the Arts Helsinki Kaarlo Hildén and journalist Maria Veitola.

Cecilia Damström: ICE, Sinfonia Lahti conducted by Dalia Stasevska –  Listen on Youtube


Cecilia Damström: ICE, Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nicholas Collon –  Listen on Yle Areena


Inaugurating the evening, Cecilia Damström’s absorbing orchestral tableau ICE, op. 77 (2021) was heard in intense sounding guise. Cast in single, ten-minute cyclical movement, the music examines the melting of ice and the ramifications of the ever-shortening winters – as suggested by the double reference of the composer’s chosen title.


The score opens with an upward moderato signal from solo harp, followed by layers of misterioso strings, oscillating in dynamics and pitch, painting a frozen landscape, echoed back and forth between woodwind and brass ostinati, colored by vibraphone. Instability increases within the material, marked by fluctuating timpani rolls and bursts from the brass and snare drum. A big string glissando leads to hectic pulses and the section closes with grave, meno mosso brass and a fermata. Another cycle follows, one of unrest and upheaval, culminating in formidable poco panico, mosso triple forte. Eventually, the musical process is reversed and ICE closes with a palindrome misterioso coda.

As ever with Damström, the musical sequences are rooted in vivid narratives, transcribed for orchestra with extraordinary intensity and keen instrumental dramaturgy. A notable opener, bearing some family relationship with Andrew Norman’s Sustain (2018), with the pioneering micropolyphonic essays of György Ligeti perhaps in the background, ICE was given in its full sounding scope and scale by Collon and the FRSO. As heard only a month after the orchestra’s world premiere performance of Damström’s Extinctions, op. 86(2023), one looks forward to their next joint endeavors with joy.

Jari Kallio, Adventures in Music  29.2.2024


Composer Cecilia Damström’s opus addressing the climate emergency, the recipient of the prestigious Teosto Award and, for the initial occasion post the era of COVID, presented before a live audience, ICE delivers a captivating auditory experience, even devoid of the underlying narrative recounting the thawing of polar ice caps.


ICE brilliantly excels in conveying a nuanced message through Ligeti-esque clusters, which are elegantly complemented by the sonorous depth of the low register, undulating wind ensembles, and piercing auditory signals.


The ending gives hope as the harp, gracefully transitioning from its initial ascending motif, tranquilly descends. The composition gracefully concludes with the gentle chime of a bicycle bell.

Jukka Isopuro, Helsingin Sanomat 1.3.2024


Interviews and articles

Cecilia Damström talking (in Finnish) about ICE and the Teosto Prize nomination – Listen on Youtube


Cecilia Damström talking (in Finnish) about ICE on National TV Ylen Aamu – Watch on Yle Areena

English Articles:
Music Finland: Cecilia Damström, Linda Fredriksson, Yona and Eevil Stöö awarded Teosto Prize
Teosto: The Teosto Prize goes to the works of Yona, Linda Fredriksson, Cecilia Damström and Eevil Stöö
Teosto: Twelve works of music nominated for the Teosto Prize
Port Magazine: Music for Climate Change
YLE: Climate action art installation unveiled in downtown Helsinki
Euronews: This small city in Finland is leading the way as a model sustainable city
Euro Cities: A song for cities in extinction
Inside Climate News: Music to Sink By
Internetwork for Sustainability: Carbon Neutral Music from Lahti for Sinking Cities
Culturall: Lahti, European Green Capital 2021, donates piece performed by carbon-neutral orchestra to cities threatened by rising sea levels
The Mayor: Lahti to install artwork depicting the effects of climate change
Treehugger: If You Can Hear This Music, Then Sea Level Rise Threatens Your City
Lahti: An imp­res­si­ve work with mel­ting ice in Hel­sin­ki re­minds us of the th­reats of cli­ma­te chan­ge

Finnish Articles:

Ylen aamu: Vieraana Teosto-palkittu Cecilia Damström
Helsingin Sanomat: Säveltäjä Cecilia Damströmin tavoitteena on saada kuulijat tuntemaan ja ajattelemaan – Nyt hän sai 15 000 euron Teosto-palkinnon ekokatastrofia käsittelevällä teoksella
Aamulehti: Säveltäjä Cecilia Damströmin tavoitteena on saada kuulijat tuntemaan ja ajattelemaan
Yle: Musiikkialan Teosto-palkinnot jaettiin Yonan, Eevil Stöön, Cecilia Damströmin ja Linda Fredrikssonin sävellyksille
Cecilia Damströmin ICE-teos voitti 15 000 euron Teosto-palkinnon
Rumba: Eevil Stöö, Yona, Linda Fredriksson ja Cecilia Damström jakavat 60 000 euron Teosto-palkinnon
Teosto: Teosto-palkintovoittajat voiton jälkeen: miltä nyt tuntuu?
Teosto-palkintoehdokas 2022: Cecilia Damström – ICE
Helsingin Sanomat: Kansalaistorilla soi vihlova musiikki samalla kun kolmimetriset jääveistokset sulavat ja kaupunkien nimet peittyvät veteen
YLE: Lahden kaupunki toi yhdeksän suurta jääkuutiota Helsingin keskustaan – katso videolta, miten sulava taideteos havainnollistaa ilmastohätätilaa
Maaseudun Tulevaisuus: Torille sulavat jääpylväät muistuttavat, että ilmastonmuutos uhkaa myös Suomen rannikkokaupunkeja Oulusta Kotkaan

Swedish Articles:

Hufvudstadsbladet: Cecilia Damström tilldelas Teostopriset för musikstycke om klimatkrisen
Lunds universitet: Cecilia Damströms is tar hem pris
Hufvudstadsbladet: Teostopriset kommer igen efter ett års paus, Cecilia Damström och LauNaus Själö uppmärksammas

German Video Interview:
Video Interview for Villa Concordia


6 August 2021 Video World Premiere by Sinfonia Lahti conducted by Dalia Stasevska

9 September 2021 Pre-World Premiere by Sinfonia Lahti conducted by Dalia Stasevska at the European Green Captial Award Ceremony

CANCELLED – 20 January 2022 World Premiere by Sinfonia Lahti conducted by Dalia Stasevska – More info

CANCELLED 17 May 2023 German Premiere by Bamberg Symphony conducted by Ruth ReinhardtMore info

28 February 2024 Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nicholas CollonMore info

29 February 2024 Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nicholas CollonMore info

14 May 2024 Helsinki University Symphony Orchestra conducted Aku Sorensen in Helsinki – More info

17 May 2024 Helsinki University Symphony Orchestra conducted Aku Sorensen in Tammisaari – More info