Show of Solidarity: Children of avalanche victim Atle Husby join others in tribute to those involved in tragic event

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Difficult as it might have been seeing Bendik Adamiak-Husby, 7, his sister, Mali, 8, and brother Rasmus, 6, show a flair for their deceased father’s diverse musical talents, the moment was meant to celebrate of the future, not mourn for what the three children have lost.

The children of Atle Husby, 42, one of two people killed in the Dec. 19 avalanche, were among the featured performers at a free “A Tribute to Solidarity” gala at 7 p.m. Thursday at Kulturhuset. The evening was dedicated to those in Longyearbyen affected by the historic catastrophe that destroyed 11 homes and inflicted an enormous psychological scar upon the community.

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Elise Strømseng (violin), Liv Mari Schei (piano) and Halldis Vesaas (vocals) perform “Lys og Varme” (“Light and Warmth”) as a sing-along during the finale of Thursday’s gala at Kulturhuset paying tribute to those affected by the Dec. 19 avalanche. Photo by Mark Sabbatini / Icepeople.

“We obviously let the family know we were planning to do the show,” said Roger Zahl Ødegård, the city’s chief cultural advisor. “We contacted them and they took the initiative to have the children perform.”

All have appeared on stage before, with Bendik at times showing his father’s versatility by playing multiple instruments during a single song. The elder son played violin, Mali sang and Rasmus played percussion “Auld Lang Song” to open the show.

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The Longyearbyen Big Band performs during the gala. The background stage decorations were designed by local kindergarten students. Photo by Mark Sabbatini / Icepeople.

The rest of the evening featured a mix of music, speeches and poetry, with most of the music lineup consisting of bands Atle Husby performed in.

“It’s a tribute to all who have contributed to help and how we stood together,” said Roger Zahl Ødegård, the city’s chief cultural advisor. “It’s not a memorial.”

City leaders first discussed the show in early January, but the event took place this week because residents might have be more ready for it, Ødegård said.

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The bluegrass band Blåmyra performs a trio of songs during the gala. Photo by Mark Sabbatini / Icepeople.

“Now some time has gone by and we have some distance from this catastrophe and can see a little bit forward,” he said.

Besides the performance by Husby’s children – with help from Elise Strømseng, Liv Mari Schei and Espen Rotevatn – other musical performances include the Store Norske Men’s Choir, Longyearbyen Big Band and Blåmyra.

“Atle was in all those bands,” Ødegåard said.

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Attendees help themselves to hors d’oeuvres during the free event that featured various musical performances and speeches. Photo by Mark Sabbatini / Icepeople.

The seats in Kulturhuset were folded and a free buffet set up on the open floor, with the show pausing a few times to allow the audience to mingle.

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Mark Sabbatini

I'm a professional transient living on a tiny Norwegian island next door to the North Pole, where once a week (or thereabouts) I pollute our extreme and pristine environment with paper fishwrappers decorated with seemingly random letters that would cause a thousand monkeys with a thousand typewriters to die of humiliation. Such is the wisdom one acquires after more than 25 years in the world's second-least-respected occupation, much of it roaming the seven continents in search of jazz, unrecognizable street food and escorts I f****d with by insisting they give me the platonic tours of their cities promised in their ads. But it turns out this tiny group of islands known as Svalbard is my True Love and, generous contributions from you willing, I'll keep littering until they dig my body out when my climate-change-deformed apartment collapses or they exile my penniless ass because I'm not even worthy of washing your dirty dishes.
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