William Hopson performs on his alphorn in the Silver Star village while local Swiss restaurateur Isadore Borgeaud looks on. Hopson was at the ski resort to perform in a special concert with the Okanagan Symphony this past Monday

William Hopson performs on his alphorn in the Silver Star village while local Swiss restaurateur Isadore Borgeaud looks on. Hopson was at the ski resort to perform in a special concert with the Okanagan Symphony this past Monday

Alphorn resonates from the mountain

Most people around the world have heard those familiar three notes from the commercial jingle for a certain throat lozenge.

You know the one where the yodeler calls out: “Ri-co-laaaaaaaa!” from atop some Swiss alpine destination. The commercial is also famous for that elongated trumpet, aptly known as an alphorn.

Those who were up at Silver Star Mountain Resort on Monday may have heard and seen the 12-foot-long instrument, played by master alphornist William Hopson.

The Calgary musician was at the hill to join the Okanagan Symphony for a special concert in celebration of the one-year anniversary of the Vancouver Winter Olympics, and on Sunday, his alphorn will resonate inside the Vernon Performing Arts Centre for the symphony’s Music of the Mountains performance.

An iconic symbol of Switzerland, the alphorn was used by shepherds to calm their flock and to communicate in mountainous regions in place of church bells.

Hopson, who plays French horn for the Calgary Philharmonic, is not only a world champion alphornist, he is a craftsman, and makes his own horns.

“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,” he said.

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

“It’s a combination of modern play with an ancient instrument,” he said. “It’s anything but simple. The range and technique is quite extensive. You can get three full octaves.”

Sunday’s concert features Hopson playing Jean Daetwyler’s Concerto for Alphorn and Orchestra, which he has performed with symphonies all over the world.

Led by music director Rosemary Thomson, the Okanagan Symphony will also perform Abigail Richardson’s The Sleeping Giant, inspired by a Thunder Bay landmark and its legend, and Johannes Brahms’ first symphony.

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.

Sunday’s performance at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $47 for adults, $41 for seniors and $21 for student/child,  available at the Ticket Seller at (250) 549-7469 or visit www.ticketseller.ca.