Clean Lines, Good Light

The Many Delights of the New Chäserstatt

Interview with Ada Pesch

Damn the Busses, Full Speed Ahead

Cross-over Jazz: The Charl du Plessis Trio

As luck would have it this morning, I ran into pianist Charl du Plessis on the lovely Dorfplatz, the central square in Ernen that’s more or less the aorta of the village. Last evening, du Plessis and the other members of his trio − Werner Spies, stick bass, and Hugo Radyn, drums − had knocked the socks off listeners in the jazz program they brought to this year’s Musikdorf Ernen festival. Performing in the main concert venue of the village church, the three musicians came on stage in elegant tuxedos, a modern take on the chasubles and miters clerics might have worn before their Catholic parishioners earlier. Given the repertoire they broke into, however, the three musicians shone just as brightly as the gold gilt alters that stood behind them and also flanked their stage.

Three fine authors read in “Queerlesen”

Returning to the beautiful town of Ernen for a fourth time this summer, I left high temperatures behind in the lowlands, happy to be getting into cooler mountain air. But it was just as refreshing to climb the last hill to the village, and see Ernen’s hallmark parish church slowly rise up above the field to my left. The church is the major venue in the Musikdorf Ernen’s fine Baroque, piano and chamber music concerts throughout a eight-week season. As such, it is a beacon that has drawn music lovers to Ernen for the last 43 years, with good reason, I might add.

Trusera Waters and Muehlebach Wurst

Cited for the first time in the 15th century, the Trusera brought water for centuries from the Milibach in the Rappen valley to irrigate land at lower altitudes. In recent decades, the channel had fallen into a sad state of disrepair and was no longer being used. From 2006, however, in great part because the regional Landschaftspark Binntal took it on as its first major project, the water way was revived and restored, so water now rushes through it again. The system is fascinating, and well worth walking along, especially since it runs through a scenic, almost magical area on the forested flank of the mountain above Ernen.

An Interview with the Intendant

Francesco Walter, the energetic artistic director of the Musikdorf Ernen project, recently spoke about how he came to his job, and what makes this small village in the Walliser alps truly “a place apart.”

The Baroque Weeks Begin!

Ada Pesch, concertmaster for the Philharmonia Zürich, is usually at work at the conductor’s left in the opera house. But for this “Baroque” week in Ernen, the American-born violinist wears the director’s hat. Baroque music is her passion, and her strength in that genre is given deserved visibility here. She also has responsibility for drawing up the roster of artists performing the Baroque repertoire, specialist colleagues who come from all over the world.

The Art of Casual Hiking: Furgge to Binn

The Ernen Tourist Office advertisement for a Wanderbus (hiking bus) caught my eye a week ago. On Thursdays and Sundays, there were pick-up points that meant leaving the driving to someone else, and being able to start the day’s hike from the high alps. I signed up enthusiastically, not really knowing what to expect.

Using Nature’s Offer: From Sheep to Woven Fabric

Margrit Zimmermann and Amanda Imhof – two determined women native to the Binntal − have recently joined forces to design a new project: “From Sheep’s Wool to Finished Fabric.” Both women are keen to share their expertise to preserve a legacy that has value for this region.

Ernen takes the Doron Prize: An interview with Anton Clausen

The interview below first appeared (in German) in the May 2015 edition of Landschaftspark Binntal’s “Park Infos.”

Gastronomy: Both the Simple and Supreme

When my daughter and her husband visited me in Ernen, we took time to test culinary waters in the immediate area. The two of them are savvy “foodies,” always looking to explore the culinary landscape when they travel. Heaven knows, it’s fun to go along for the ride.

Chi Ho Han Takes on Musical Alps

No question, young Korean pianist Chi Ho Han tackled a repertoire that was highly challenging. While a skeptic might call his choice “the brash courage of youth,” Han was quick to show he was no rookie to the concert stage. Granted, nobody can “breeze through” works as difficult as the ones he chose for his program, but his performance showed him both an accomplished technician, and a virtuoso pianist who masterfully combines emotive poetry with his musical prose. 

The Boots are made for Walkin’

There isn’t much like the Binn valley for a full day of hiking, whether you're a seasoned mountaineer or a newcomer to the steady rhythm of the sport. Today’s breathable textiles, walking sticks, and power snacks may ease one’s way on the trail, but when it comes right down to it, anybody who undertakes a day out in the Swiss alps can expect a physical challenge. Fortunately, it’s a challenge that reaps its own − and manifold − rewards.

A Certain Caliber of Music, and of Light

With the bench already occupied, two young couples simply waited for the start of the concert on the freshly-cut grass next to the church. Both men lay on their backs with a hand over their eyes, the women, alert and sitting Indian style, faced the broad, blue valley. “I might have dressed too informally,” said the one, who was in a stylish pair of trousers and a loose-fitting top. “No, no,” said her friend in Swiss-German, “dress isn’t the issue here. Don’t worry.”

What Village are We, Anyway?

The picturesque village of Ernen in the Swiss canton of Wallis is perched like a promise on the lowermost flank of the Binn Valley, some two hours from Berne. Once the main village of the district of Goms, Ernen had a proud folk of mercenary soldiers and resident farmers. Most had to eke out a living for generations despite the challenges of the elements, and from the 19th century − like many rural mountain communities − it largely lost its youth to the attraction of jobs and greater prosperity in the urban areas of the country’s lowlands. Yet over the past four decades, the town has witnessed a Renaissance, in no small part because a music master class that morphed into a lively music festival – a unique summer event that attracts artists and visitors from all over Europe.