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Calling the Cows Home

PUBLISHED: 10:57 30 April 2013 | UPDATED: 14:21 30 April 2013

Frances Jones, the only Alphorn player in the UK, performing at Thatcham

Frances Jones, the only Alphorn player in the UK, performing at Thatcham

Archant

The penultimate performance of the Old Bluecoat School 'Tea and Cakes' series of concerts at Thatcham was packed for a very unusual session. Frances Jones, the only Alphorn player in the UK, gave a fascinating talk on the origins of the instrument, and then performed a number of pieces, accompanied by her husband Martin.

Frances explained that blowing horns to call herd animals has been practised since Classical times. In Switzerland, the Alphorn has been used for centuries for summoning cows, often from vast distances; the Alphorn can be heard from 6 miles away. The instrument declined in Switzerland under the influence of Calvinism, which did not approve of music, but underwent a revival following the rise of Swiss nationalism after the liberation of the country from Napoleonic domination in the early 19th century.

Frances played amusing video footage of her own experience of attracting the attention of cows with the instrument in Devon, and then performed a number of pieces on the Alphorn, including Mozart’s ‘Sinfonia Pastorella’, some solos,and the well-known spiritual ‘Amazing Grace’.

The final concert in the current series will take place at 4pm on Sunday, 26 May when harpist Tori Handsley will perform a medley of classical and jazz pieces. Tickets available from The Family Bookshop, Thatcham, 01635 871777, or e-mail sandranicholls64@btinternet.com £10 adult ticket, £5 child ticket.

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