Okanagan Symphony’s call to the wild

Concert features William Hopson on the alphorn.

  • Thu Mar 3rd, 2011 7:00pm
  • Life

Bill Hopson and his alphorn.

Mountains all over the world have long been the inspiration for music of the most majestic kind and will resonate at the Kelowna Community Theatre on Saturday, March 5 followed by a performance at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre on Sunday, March 6.

The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra and music director Rosemary Thomson presents Music of the Mountains featuring internationally acclaimed alphornist, William Hopson.

Valley residents will have a rare opportunity to hear the extraordinary instrument that has long been an iconic symbol of Switzerland. Spanning the length of two men and reaching 12 feet in length, the alphorn was used by shepherds to calm their flock and to communicate in mountainous regions—and has since been widely recognized as the elongated trumpet that plays the familiar three-note jingle of the Riccola commercials.

Hopson, a French horn player for the Calgary Philharmonic, and world champion alphornist, is also a craftsman when it comes to making the instrument. “There’s an exotic element to the instrument. It’s a work of art, from playing the instrument to making them. I make the instruments out of Sitka spruce from Vancouver Island,” says Hopson. “It’s a combination of modern play with an ancient instrument,” he says. “It’s anything but simple. The range and technique is quite extensive. You can get three full octaves.”

Acquiring his first alphorn in 1982, Hopson spends much of his summers introducing and teaching the majestic instrument in Switzerland and Austria.

Resonating Swiss folk melodies from valley meadow to alpine cirque and drunken shepherds dancing with mud on their shoes, Music of the Mountain will give valley residents a chance to experience one of the great masterpieces of all time in Johannes Brahms first symphony. Audiences will hear the instrument that inspired Brahms in the introduction of the powerful finale of the work. The famous horn calls in the Brahms symphony were directly inspired by alphorn calls, which the composer heard while on holiday in the Swiss Alps.

Thomson will lead the OSO in performances of this program on Saturday, March 5th, 8 p.m. at the Kelowna Community Theatre, followed by a performance on Sunday, March 6, 7 p.m. at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre.

Tickets for the Kelowna show are available at Ticketmaster, Town Centre Mall or call 250-860-1470 www.ticketmaster.ca. For Vernon performance, contact Ticket Seller at 250-549-7469 or visit www.ticketseller.ca.