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Margo Kline: Edelweiss Choir Conjures Sweet Sounds

Swiss Singing Society Harmonie also performed for Sunday's spring concert

The Edelweiss Choir, long a treasure for lovers of choral music, celebrated its 40th anniversary on Sunday at Trinity Lutheran Church with a concert of nostalgic vocal selections.

Edelweiss was joined in the spring concert by a guest performing group, the Swiss Singing Society Harmonie from the Los Angeles area. The two choirs performed a full concert of favorites from Switzerland, plus a couple of other European countries for variety.

Members of Edelweiss turned out in colorful dirndls with aprons and weskits for the women and loden gray-green woolens for the men. Women of the Swiss Singing Society wore similar ensembles, and the men sported colorful clothing with flat black hats, usually seen only in the Swiss Alps.

Trinity Lutheran’s spacious sanctuary was filled nearly to capacity for the event. The community’s German-speaking residents provide strong support for Edelweiss, enjoying conversations in German during the intermission.

The first portion of the program was sung by the Edelweiss Choir under the direction of Julia Neufeld, who has conducted the singers since 1999. Piano accompaniment was provided by Beverly Staples. After the Edelweiss set, the Swiss Singing Society Harmonie took the stage to offer not only vocal music but pieces for accordion and even one for musical coin-rolling. The visiting group was conducted by Rodger Whitten.

An added attraction was the Alphorn, a long wooden instrument with a haunting tone, played by Ernie Kneubuhler. The Alphorn’s notes of the natural harmonic series overlap, but do not exactly correspond, to notes found in the familiar chromatic scale in standard Western horn music. The Alphorn dates back to medieval times, and is sonorous and loud enough to be heard from one of Switzerland’s alpine peaks to another.

Non-German music sung by the choirs included the song “Edelweiss” from the American musical The Sound of Music, “La haut sur la montaine” in French and Neapoltan favorite “Funiculi, Fanicula.” French and Italian are among the languages spoken in Switzerland, along with Swiss German.

The performance closed with both choirs joining to sing “Harmonie” by 19th century composer Eugen Dieffenbacher. And harmonious these singers were, throughout the afternoon.

A Christmas concert is scheduled by the Edelweiss Choir when the holidays come around, and a 2012 tour to Chile and Argentina is in the planning stages. The group is open to new members and rehearses at Trinity Lutheran Church at 7 p.m. every Tuesday.

— Margo Kline covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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