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Swiss Echoes perform traditional folk music

POSTED March 29, 2011 9:58 p.m.

The songs and sounds of the Alps will be ringing out loud and clear when the San Joaquin Valley Swiss Club stages their annual spring concert Saturday.

The club’s 35-member choral group, Swiss Echoes, will all don authentic attire and perform traditional Swiss folk songs and yodels. The group is under the direction of Agnes Litfin-Olmsted and will be accompanied by Sara Rae Vanderhelm on piano. Members hail from all over the local area, including Turlock and Delhi.

The San Joaquin Valley Swiss Club was formed in 1920 as a way for people to share the customs and traditions of their homeland. In 1947, a group of 28 singers formed the first Swiss Echoes and became members of the United Swiss Singing Society of the Pacific Coast.

This year’s concert will include a guest performance by The van Ott Family. The four older siblings began playing music seven and a half years ago in their charter school band and have now been joined by their two younger siblings. Helen, 18, plays the piano; Twins Theresa and Melissa, 17, play the alto and soprano saxophone and the clarinet, respectively; Thomas, 15, plays the accordion and the alphorn; Maria, 9, sings and yodels; and Nicholas, 7, yodels and plays the trumpet.

Also performing at the spring concert is yodeler Lisa Ward-Dillier from Sacramento.

Swiss folk songs typically keep to a theme that reflects a love of nature and the region. Yodeling is one of the more well-known Swiss music traditions, as is the alphorn, a long and slender instrument. The alphorn and yodeling were originally methods for townspeople to communicate with one another from one mountaintop to another.

The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be at the San Joaquin Valley Swiss Club hall on E. Main Street and Manley Road in Ripon. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $10.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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