Peachland man shares love for Swiss alphorn from dock on Okanagan Lake | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Peachland man shares love for Swiss alphorn from dock on Okanagan Lake

Beat Heeb lives in Peachland and plays his traditional Swiss alphorn from a dock on Okanagan Lake.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Al Brooks
September 26, 2021 - 6:30 AM

A Peachland man is sharing a piece of his heritage with other residents in a very unique way.

Originally from Switzerland, Beat Heeb plays traditional Swiss songs on a Swiss alphorn from a dock on Okanagan Lake.

He said the lake reflects the sound and the music often draws boaters onto shore to listen.

“I play every day because you have to keep practising to keep the lips flexible to hit high or low notes,” Heeb said. “A lot of people enjoy the sound and thank me for playing. It is a nice little spiritual sound.”

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Heeb said playing the alphorn reminds him of his native country where, growing up, there would often be horn players in the mountains.

“They played into the rocks,” he said. “The rocks make an amazing echo. Growing up we had quite a few alphorn players that played on the mountains.”

The alphorn is a 3.6 metre long wooden musical instrument with a wooden cup-shaped mouthpiece. It breaks into three pieces that can be packed and carried easily. Heeb said there are no valves or finger buttons involved.

“You make all of the sounds with your mind and lips and emotions,” he said. “You play it with your heart. The vibrations are very healing. When you take a piece of parchment paper and put sand on top, the horn vibrations create symmetrical pictures.”

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Heeb came to Canada from Switzerland in 1976. He ran a business in Vancouver for decades before moving to Peachland six months ago. He bought his first alphorn in 2004.

“I went to Switzerland to visit friends and family,” he said. “I bought an alphorn to bring back. A talented horn player and friend there taught me how to play. I’ve played at Expo in South Korea in and outside the Swiss Pavilion, and with the Swiss Choir in Vancouver.”

Heeb said he has never met another alphorn player in Canada.

His wife Brigitta, also from Switzerland, plays flutes and drums, and crystal bowls for sound healing. The pair said they love the mountains and travel to them as much as possible.

“The most special place I ever played was in the mountains at Lake Louise and visitors and tourists enjoyed it,” Heeb said. “It sounded the best.”


To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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