Musician Ondřej Glogar plays the carnyx at Crystal Valley Week glass festival

Ondřej Glogar with the carnyx

Visitors to the Crystal Valley Week glass festival, taking place in Liberec this week, were wowed by the sound of an exotic-looking musical instrument that few people could put a name to. It was a Celtic carnyx made of glass, specially produced for the festival.

Czech glassblowers are exceptionally skilled craftsmen and in addition to creating breathtaking lights, vases and other glass installations for mansions, luxury yachts and palaces the world over they occasionally try their hand at a special challenge – a music instrument made of glass.

In this case it was an artistic looking Celtic carnyx. Ondřej Glogar is the only musician far-and-wide who knows how to play one. He explains what it is:

"The Celts used this trumpet-like instrument to summon each other to battle, or to communicate with each other in battle. The original instruments weren’t this big. This is 2.2 meters long, usually they were about 1.5 meters, so they would be easier to handle and carry around. Some Celtic warriors had them strapped to their belt together with a sword."

The impressive glass carnyx with a dragon motif, which Ondřej Glogar played on the square in Liberec during Crystal Valley Week, was made by the glass school in Železný Brod. It was made of borosilicate, i.e. technical glass, and only two copies were created, each weighing 3.5 kilos.

Ondřej says he’s very happy with the sound, but admits that playing the carnyx is not easy.

“Originally, the carnyx was made of copper or bronze, and had a large dragon, pig or snake head. The one you see here has a modern touch to it. Because of its size it is harder to play than the digeridoo which I am more accustomed to. The carnyx just has one basic note and so you focus on rhythm and a combination of bass sounds. The technique is basically the same as that you use for the trombone, the digeridoo and other wind instruments.”

Crystal Valley Week is an open-air glass festival held in the last week of August in Liberec. It features glass installations in the city center, workshops for the public, an exhibition of glass art objects and live music. This year it runs from August 28 until September 2.

Authors: Daniela Lazarová , Tomáš Mařas | Source: Český rozhlas
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