Yesterday my sister and I listened to Swiss mountain music almost continuously from 9.46am to 4am. Yes, more than 18 hours of “jo-lo-lu-lu-uuu”. In a concert hall, in a church, in a sports centre; on a street corner, in a cafe, at a sausage stall; at a bar, beneath a tree, on a meadow. It was heaven.
Let me explain – briefly, because in the next few days more will be revealed in posts, pictures and in a little film Teresa and I have made (once I have discovered how to download and stitch together the clips taken with my new movie camera).
We were in Interlaken, in the Bernese Oberland, for the Swiss national Jodlerfest (16-19 June), where 11,000 yodellers, alphorn players and flag-wavers flocked, having qualified last year to perform there. A crowd of 200,000 awaited them over the four days, as did 140 judges, who gave them marks music-exam-style rather than in a ‘who-beat-who’ competition. The festival takes place every three years: recent past hosts include Luzern and Frauenfeld.
Throughout Friday evening and from 9am to 9pm on Saturday, 14 venues came alive with the sounds of the mountains, with an act every eight minutes – as did 18 Bierfest-style marquees, some of which had live bands till 5.30am.
Interlaken’s cafes and bars, too, rang with sing-songs, as did its very streets. All day and all night long hundreds – probably thousands – of impromptu vocal jam sessions filled the Festgelaende (festival meadow). Even this morning at 6.45am, as Teresa and I walked to the station en route back to England, a group of four young people passed us yodelling softly in harmony.
Unless you followed a link I posted on my blog of 10 June, I bet most of you have never heard an authentic yodel (and no, The Sound of Music definitely does not count).
Well, you are in luck. In advance of our own forthcoming Jodlerfest film, you can watch one of our favourite acts from the festival here – Kuettel Family at Interlaken. This is a mother and daughter, accompanied by the son. The backdrop has been imposed by the way – in the auditorium it was a black curtain. Listen all the way to the end, and I defy you not to fall in love with the yodel!
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