Thursday, June 13, 2024

Alphorn enthusiasts unite for four days of music and camaraderie

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LEAVENWORTH—Over Memorial Day weekend, new and experienced Alphorn players gathered from all over the U.S., Canada, and Switzerland to build their skills at the Northwest Alphorn Workshop.

“This year is different in that it has grown substantially…And people love this setting. This is a really inspirational setting out here. It's so inviting to the participants that they’re motivated to play as soon as they arrive,” said Leavenworth Alphorn Association President Thomas Tilton.

The Northwest Alphorn Workshop, hosted by the Leavenworth Alphorn Association, brought together 65 faculty and participants to learn and play the traditional Alphorn along Icicle Creek, with the Enchantments as a backdrop.

“I like the camaraderie. Everyone's just so fun. We have instruction, but it's not like, “nose to the grindstone.” It's just, “let's have fun music and learn something,’” said third-year participant Brandi Jones.

Jones and her husband, both French horn players, discovered alphorns at a similar festival in Utah six years ago. Now, they have their own local group near Lake Tahoe, CA, and make their own alphorns out of naturally shaped wood.

“We go out and we scout for trees that are already growing in the correct shape for an alphorn, and we look for them growing in marginal areas where they're not going to make it very long anyway,” said Jones.

The participants spend four days together, learning, playing, and sharing meals. They receive instruction from local musicians and renowned Yannick Wey, an expert in alpine musicology from Switzerland. Each day, they practice solo and in ensemble in East Leavenworth, then take what they’ve learned to the streets of downtown.

The event coincides with the Leavenworth Alphorn Association’s International Alphorn Festival, presented by the City of Leavenworth and the Chamber of Commerce. The festival showcases the alphorn through solo and ensemble performances at the downtown gazebo and even features workshop participants.

“The Bavarian theme enhances everything about this, and I think people really like that there's a built-in audience that you don't get in very many places,” said Tilton.

More about the Leavenworth Alphorn Association can be found at leavenworthalphorns.org.

Taylor Caldwell: 509-433-7276 or taylor@ward.media

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