It was traditionally used to send messages across wide mountain valleys in the Alps, but this month the sound of the Alpenhorn will be echoing across the waters of the Shannon estuary when a group of six German musicians come to Pallaskenry to perform a concert featuring the instrument.
The concert is the brainchild of Stefan Kaiser of Pallaskenry, the only known local exponent on the Alpenhorn, who invited the group of players (including his father Alfred), to play a concert in Pallaskenry church alongside local singers and musicians.
A native of the Black Forest region, Stefan has lived in Pallaskenry for the past 15 years where is married to local girl Orla.
He says the concert will be a first for Pallaskenry, and possibly the whole of Ireland. “I don’t know was there ever an Alpenhorn group in this country,” he said.
“This is a group of players who have played together for the last 17 or 18 years. They meet for different occasions, such as local festivals and other celebrations,” he explained.
“They are all in brass bands or orchestras and would be very good musicians,” added Stefan, who is himself a talented multi-instrumentalist.
An employee of Analog Devices, he can often he heard practising in the company’s sports and social club in Mungret College.
The four-metre long instrument is made of wood and was traditionally used to communicate across wide mountain valleys, where its sound can travel up to 10km. “It belongs to the family of brass instruments and it has a very clear, clean sound,” Stefan explained.
“It is most commonly known in Switzerland, Germany or Austria but it is all over Europe - anywhere you have mountainous areas.”
Joining the group for the concert will be local musicians, including the Pallaskenry National School choir; James and Caoimhe Lillis; Pat and Ciara McGarrigle; Seamus Donworth and family; Rebecca and Aoise Carroll; Luisa, Margretta and Adela Azzopardi; Catherine Mulcahy; Sybren Oggel, Stefan Kaiser and Maeve Gloster. The concert will take place on Monday, May 18 at 7.30pm. The German visitors are self-financing their tour and donating all door receipts to Crumlin Children’s Hospital and Scoil Mhuire Pallaskenry. Tickets are on sale in advance in the two local post offices at €10 for adults and €4 for children.