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Amsterdam: Prinsengracht Canal Concert on Ice — Amsterdammers were treated to an ice-cold concert yesterday: the first ‘annual’ edition of the Prinsengracht Concert On Ice.

Every summer for the past 30 years Amsterdammers have enjoyed a classical music festival centered around the Prinsengracht canal.

It started out with a single piano concert performed on top of a huge barge, and has over the years grown out to an event that lasts 10 days and includes concerts at over 50 locations — ranging from private canal house salons to outdoor concerts along the canals and the IJ river.

But the finale — the event’s center piece — always takes place on Prinsengracht, with the podium (on pontoons) surrounded by hundreds of small boats, and thousands of people lining the canal and bridges.

It’s a wonderful concert in a truly unique only-in-Amsterdam location amid a fantastic atmosphere of friendship and camaraderie.

Prinsengracht Concert on Ice

The crowds were much smaller yesterday for the first ‘annual’ performance of the Prinsengracht Concert on Ice, and there were skaters instead of boats, but the atmosphere was no less enthusiastic.

Taking advantage of a deep freeze the likes of which we haven’t seen in over a decade, this more-or-less impromptu concert was the brainchild of classical music station AVRO Klassiek and contrabass player Wilmar de Visser (Netherlands Wind Ensemble and Radio Philharmonic Orchestra). That’s the official story. The announcer explained the idea for the event was thought up two days ago in a local pub.

The concert was performed by The Paradiso Orchestra, composed of members of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, the Dutch Chamber Orchestra, the Dutch Radio Chamber Orchestra and the Netherlands Wind Ensemble.

Naturally the ‘On Ice’ version ended with a rendition of Aan De Amsterdam Grachten — a sing-along ode to Amsterdam (English lyrics here) that traditionally closes every Prinsengrachtconcert.

Hotel Pulitzer, organizers of the very first canal concert, provided glühwein, hot chocolate and pea soup.

By way of comparison, this is what the finale of the Prinsengrachtconcert normally looks and sounds like:

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This post was last updated: Mar. 24, 2013