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Ice Cello Performed by Joan Jeanrenaud

Ice Music for London Revisited

In 2001, cellist Joan Jeanrenaud, working with the original composer Jim McWilliams, and Gregory Kuhn, Dan Collard, and Alessandro Moruzzi recreated Ice Music for London, performed by Charlotte Moorman in 1972.

A Few Differences in the Performance

Unlike Moorman’s premiere of the piece in London, Jeanrenaud used sculpted ice cellos – rather than an ice cube cello.

Jeanrenaud did not appear nude. She wore a tight, thermal, black bodysuit, and gloves that extended past her elbows – but no garland of live flowers.

This revival of Ice Music required great endurance; it lasted about 3.5 hours.

A Variety of Bows

Jeanrenaud used bows of split bamboo, barbed wire, and rasps. She used a hacksaw and a pitchfork to destroy the cello as well as the variety of bows.

Enhanced Dripping

Composer and sound artist Gregory Kuhn amplified and enhanced the sound of the water dripping off the melting ice cello. Jeanrenaud explained:

As in the original version, the cello I perform on is made entirely of ice that melts over an extended period of time. The sound created is from the ice melting and dripping onto surfaces beneath the cello that are then amplified and electronically manipulated so as to create an enveloping sound environment.

A Glowing Cello

During at least one of her performances, a spotlight created shadows of Jeanrenaud and made the ice cello appear to glow.

Watch Part of Her Performance at the Walker Art Center

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Joan Jeanrenaud

Joan Jeanrenaud performing Ice Music. Photo from press release

Joan Jeanrenaud (born January 25, 1956) is an American cellist from  Memphis, Tennessee. She was a member of the Kronos Quartet from 1978 until 1999. She left the quartet to pursue a solo career and collaborate with other artists, in part due to being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

In 2001 she re-created Charlotte Moorman and Jim McWilliams's Ice Music in several performances.

Jim McWilliams

Jim McWilliams (born February 10, 1937) is an American artist and graphic designer who was active as an avant-garde performer and composer during the 1960s and 1970s.

After 1966, McWilliams's artworks and performances were often realized in collaboration with Moorman. He composed numerous works for her, including Ice Music (1972), in which she used a file, a saw, a long strip of plexiglass, and other tools to play a cello made of ice until it melted.