News

Sounds of Switzerland come to Norwich

By John Tapley, Ingersoll Times

The Swiss Yodeling Friends –  a group of 16 singers, including Norwich-area residents Hans Habegger and his wife, Ursula Habegger, – performed a concert at Norwich United Church on Saturday along with the Edelweiss Quintet of accordion players and three authentic Alpenhorns. JOHN TAPLEY/FOR THE NORWICH GAZETTE

The Swiss Yodeling Friends – a group of 16 singers, including Norwich-area residents Hans Habegger and his wife, Ursula Habegger, – performed a concert at Norwich United Church on Saturday along with the Edelweiss Quintet of accordion players and three authentic Alpenhorns. JOHN TAPLEY/FOR THE NORWICH GAZETTE

Norwich United Church was filled with people and some traditional sounds from the mountains of Switzerland on Saturday.

 

The Swiss Yodeling Friends – a group of 16 singers, including Norwich-area residents Hans Habegger and his wife, Ursula Habegger, – performed a concert at the church along with the Edelweiss Quintet of accordion players and three authentic Alpenhorns.

 

Rehearsing weekly in Milverton, the Swiss Yodeling Friends was founded 21 years ago and has 70 authentic Swiss folk arrangements in its repertoire, which its members sing from memory.

 

The Habeggers are tow of four members of the choir who actually yodel.

 

Ursula Habegger took a yodeling course with some friends in Switzerland before she, her husband and their three children immigrated to Canada about 25 years ago.

 

“I couldn't imagine you could learn something like this,” she said.

 

Germany, Austria and Switzerland have different styles and techniques of yodeling that vary from one region to the next within each country.

 

Even the Swiss Yodeling Friends' dress reflected the regionalism of the tradition with most members wearing traditional Bernese fashion while Ursula Habegger wore attire from Thurgau.

 

Ursula Habegger said the exact origin of yodeling is not clear, but it is believed to have originated as a form of communication between people who lived in the mountains of Switzerland that eventually evolved into music.

 

She said yodeling is experiencing a resurgence in popularity in Switzerland.

 

“It's coming back again, more and more,” she said. “The younger generation is more into traditional (things).”

 

Saturday's performance began with four men ringing large bells, followed by music from the large, wooden Alpenhorns.

 

“Those are not easy to play,” said the Habeggers' daughter, Martina Scheeler, who provided the audience with information about each piece performed during the concert. “It takes something to even make a squeak in them.”