A local musician played an alphorn on Swiss National day over the Okanagan

Alphorn plays on Swiss day

Casey Richardson

Musical notes from an alphorn floated through the hills on Saturday, which happened to also be National Swiss day. 

Traditionally used by mountain dwellers in Switzerland, local musician Sam McNally learned about the instrument when studying for his masters in horn performance. 

“[With] master classes in university sometimes professors would bring in their alphorns and we'd mess around with them,” McNally said.

Originally a french horn player and teacher, McNally decided a few months ago he wanted to see if he could track down this 11 foot wooden horn. 

“I kinda got it into my head that maybe this was something that would be fun to have, I live in this mountainous region.”

McNally found the Alphorn in Fernie, driving out a few weeks ago to pick it up. He wanted to first test the horn in the rocky mountains to properly play it.

“We were on this little lookout and the echoing was insane off of the rocky mountains. You’d play and it would just reverberate around the valley.”

He has yet to find a spot in the Okanagan that gives the same effect, but believes with “enough gumption,” he can track it down. 

While he is not Swiss himself, McNally was fond of the history of the horn. He explained the legend of how farmers would use it to signal to their families that everything was fine while they were up on the mountain tops with their flock. 

“It’s hard to say if this actually happened, but I like to think it did.” 

The french horn still remains the true calling for McNally, but he’s happy to have the alphorn in his back pocket to have fun with. 

“For now I’m quite happy with it being a thing I bring out on the weekends and come up to the mountain or wherever we are, and toot a little bit.”

For more information on the musical stylings of McNalley, check out his website. 

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