It was a surprise for all parties involved when a nude saxophone player beat out four similarly clad violinists to be voted the best representation of a water fairy from Swedish folklore. The Arets Nack (Water Fairy of the Year) has been a popular event in north-western Sweden for more than a decade. But for the first time in the 15 years of its history, a contestant played something other than a violin.
Martin Norberg is now the official water fairy, but he almost missed his chance when he showed up just two hours before the contest and asked if he could play a saxophone. The Swedish legend tells of a nude supernatural man who plays a violin on the shores of the country’s rivers and lakes.
It is the captivating music of the water fairy that lures people into the water, causing them to drown. But Calle Hernmarck, the founder of the competition, decided to put a twist on the old story and allow alternative instruments. He defended his actions to The Local, explaining: “The myth of the water fairy is really old and predates when the violin first came to Sweden in 1646.”
This year’s event featured five musicians who had to play nude in icy creek water to a crowd of more than 400 onlookers. Contestants are only allowed to cover themselves with things “which can be found in nature.”
“It takes a special type of person to be a water fairy,” said Hernmarck. “They have to be something of an actor so that they can play without thinking, ‘OK, now I’m naked.’ They also have to be good musicians.”
“Just like the Water Fairy, he appeared in a guise we didn’t expect. He captivated and frightened, with his eyes and his enchanted saxophone, he seduced the jury,” wrote the jury which named Norberg the winner.