When we first moved to Adelboden in October 2014, my husband and I were determined to be involved in village life as well as Chalet life. As we’re both musicians we set about finding a brass band. We were lucky to find the Adelboden Heils Armee (Salvation Army) who had a small brass band in the village and who welcomed us into their group.
At first rehearsals were hard, they would forget we were there and that we didn’t understand Swiss German, High German or Adelboden Swiss so there was a lot of getting confused or pointing at things. As the weeks passed, things became easier and the 2 hours of music each week were a welcome challenge. We learnt who to ask for more information about concerts or where concerts were. When you are born and bred in the village, it’s easy to assume everyone knows where Chumi is or a small farm venue, so it was quite a steep learning curve in the first year. There were still small misunderstandings, such as not wearing the right shoes to an event because in the UK you wear smart black dress shoes regardless of where the concert is, but infact in Switzerland it’s fine to wear your hiking boots for a concert up a mountain covered in thick snow because you will be playing outside and not in the nice warm restaurant as you assumed it would be. The Adelboden Swiss are hardy, outdoors types and concerts tend to go ahead regardless of the weather. The information that “if it rains we’ll be inside the cowshed” was reassuring until upon arrival the congregation are snug in the newly hosed down cowshed and the band are outside in the rain !
As the months passed, we felt more and more at home with the band. Members started to invite us to their birthday parties or family barbeques. We played many concerts together in lots of different venues including; Adelboden Church, Frutigen Church, Bern, Basel and on top of mountains. We were introduced to other bands people from neighbouring Frutigen and Bern and became part of the bigger banding community. It was hugely exciting to travel by bus to Basel for the day one summer to play at a service with both the Frutigen and Adelboden bands plus supporters in traditional attire.
Another memorable evening was the Band AGM, we all set off by car to Geils to be met by a skidoo in the carpark. We were carefully placed behind the driver and several members jumped into the trailer, then we whizzed up the mountain to a fondue hut where we ate the best fondue I’ve ever eaten. Afterwards, the band said we didn’t need the skidoo back down so we ran, slipped and rolled our way back to the cars, down what is infact a black ski run. The Swiss have this amazing ability to walk in snow and ice and it’s probably the same for other countries who experience these conditions but for us Brits, this was a real challenge especially as we weren’t equipped with torches and the gigantic piste machines were out grooming the piste for the morning. I have no idea what they thought of the mess we made of it !
Each Easter for over 40 years the band has played early in the morning at Our Chalet to celebrate Easter Sunday and then joined guests and staff for a breakfast. This has been a great opportunity to share Our Chalet, it’s people and mission with them.
Some of my favourite concerts are those given in the summer months on top of mountains. As Adelboden is a rural, farming village, the farmers take their cows up to the Alp each summer for roughly 70 days. This means that traditionally speaking they don’t return to the village as often as they might and so the service would come to them. Of course in modern Adelboden there are cars to help farmers visit the village more often but the tradition of playing a service on the mountain tops continues. There is nothing more magical than making music in the sunshine on Bonderalp, Engstligen, Silleren or at my favourite; Butschi valley. Afterwards everyone chats and there is usually cheese, milk, alpine tea and sometimes meringues and fresh cream !
This Autumn, the band came and helped Our Chalet celebrate it’s 85th birthday with some background music during cake and coffee. It was great to have that connection between village and Chalet and to be an active part of both elements.
We have experienced some wonderful events during our time at Our Chalet but the band have truly made us feel welcome and part of the larger Adelboden community, be it playing at funerals, welcoming newly born babies or just having a good old laugh with great friends. Thanks to them we have continued to make music and learnt first hand about village life both the mountains, seasons, traditions, sports and people. It has been an unforgettable privilege, thank you.
Nikki Tucker – Our Chalet Deputy World Centre Manager of Operations (October 2014 – December 2017)