P R O M E N A D E 2 , 3 7 8 0 G S TA A D + 4 1 3 3 7 3 3 8 1 1 0 T H E A L P I N A G S TA A D , A L P I N A S T R A S S E 2 3 , 3 7 8 0 G S TA A D + 4 1 3 3 7 4 4 7 4 8 0 GRAFFDIAMONDS.COM
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Issue 6 | 24 August 2018 CHF 3.50
FARMING 50 YEARS AGO Hardships of the olden days
VILLAGE SHOP EXPANDS Grocery store in Saanenmรถser is far from closing down
THE MAGIC OF BELLS Hannes Moor shares his knowledge and emotions
GS TA A D
EINE GESCHICHTE – EINE ZUKUNFT UNE HISTOIRE – UN AVENIR This lavishly illustrated publication takes its readers on a journey back in time. Local historian Bendicht Hauswirth retells the agricultural and economical history of the region. All texts are in German and French. Author: Bendicht Hauswirth Content: 191 pages, richly illustrated, including an historical map ISBN: 978-3-907041-70-3 Price: Fr. 49.– Available at: Au Foyer, Saanen Cadonau Papeterie, Gstaad Müller Medien, Gstaad Museum der Landschaft Saanen Pfander Buchhandlung, Zweisimmen
N EW BO O K
SALES | RENTALS | ADMINISTRATION THE ADRESS FOR YOUR HOME IN GSTAAD SINCE 1970. Gschwendstrasse 2 | CH-3780 Gstaad Tel. +41 33 748 45 50 | Fax. +41 33 748 45 51 firstname.lastname@example.org | www.gerax.ch
WHAT A SUMMER! It's already time for the last issue of this summer. And what a summer it was! 2018 saw the period between April and July with the least precipitation in the last 100 years. Record temperatures made a bad situation worse. The heat and the drought have had serious consequences: a lack of grass on the alps, so the farmers had to start feeding their cattle hay that was planned for the winter or buy additional food; a lack of water in brooks and rivers, so fish that were trapped in mere puddles had to be removed and released in other parts; too much drought, so fires had to be banned for fear of wildfires that might spiral out of control. The brown patches on our lawn are really no big deal in view of this. Experts say that the climate situation this year was due to a constellation of various factors. The lack of precipitation has been exceptional and is not an ongoing trend but climate change with rising temperatures is. Many individuals and organizations make efforts for more sustainability. And while this is great, maybe a regional strategy – as it exists for tourism for example – should be envisaged.
CONTENTS LOCAL NEWS Explore the area with Gsteig Discover
Saanenmöser’s village shop to be enlarged
Festival au Pays des Enfants in Château-d’Oex
Seven hotels in the top 50
Lack of rain threatens the fish
Positive outlook for the BDG
The magic of bells
ARTS & CULTURE Lezhneva delivers emotional rollercoaster
SPORTS & LEISURE 15
From the engines to the waters
Before there were roads
Markus Iseli, Publishing Director
Cover Photo: © Guy Girardet GstaadLife, Anzeiger von Saanen, Kirchstrasse 6, P.O. Box 201, 3780 Gstaad, Phone: 033 748 88 74, Fax: 033 748 88 84, www.gstaadlife.com Management Board and Publisher: Frank Müller, email@example.com Publishing Director & Editor in Chief: Markus Iseli, firstname.lastname@example.org Contributors: Alex Bertea, Anna Charles, Guy Girardet, Anne Christine Kempton, Sophie Rieder Layout: Epu Shaha, Aline Brawand Advertising: Eliane Behrend, email@example.com, Phone: 033 748 88 71 Subscriptions: Annic Romang, firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone: 033 748 88 74 "AvS" after the author of an article indicates the the text is based on material from the Anzeiger von Saanen.
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EXPLORE THE AREA WITH GSTEIG DISCOVER The village organization Gsteig-Feutersoey has signposted a circuit, Gsteig Discover. People interested will find a map with the locations and a small description. The beautiful summer weather we are having invites you to discover. To be able to get an idea of the listed places of interest around Gsteig and Feutersoey, Josua Bieler and Oliver Herrmann made almost the whole circuit in a round trip. They only missed one spot because the area on the Sanetsch can only be reached by cable car at the moment. The track from Feutersoey via Chrinnen, Walliser Wispile, Gsteig, Col du Pillon, Col de Voré and Arnensee makes a total of 35km and about 1700m altitude. It is not only the single spots to be reached that are worth seeing
but also the journey to get to them. In particular the path from Retaudsee via Col de Voré to the Arnensee is a real gem. Hikers and bikers who come across one of the small signs can text a picture of it with the senders name to the village organisation until 26 September. All participants enter a draw to win a prize. The winners will be announced at the Gsteig Märet, but look carefully, not all of the signs are easy to find.
ONE WHO LOVES WINE AND KNOWS MUCH ABOUT IT Thankfully, as reported in this same issue a year ago, Gstaad is blessed with many. Buying wine at auction, however, is not only smart but also sensible as well as an art. To that end, contact our expert, who is at your service. Anaïs Vital Durand email@example.com
Rue Prévost-Martin 51 CH-1205 GENEVA +41 22 320 11 77 +41 22 320 14 74 FAX www.piguet.com
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SOPHIE RIEDER / AVS
The village shop in Saanenmöser is moving on 1 November to new
round, and will continue to be run by a main salesperson and three parttime employees. “For both Swiss Post and GST services, the longer opening hours are a benefit and particularly attractive,” says Sprenger. Negotiations between the GST, the post office, and the municipality of Saanen are currently underway to ensure timely mail delivery to the new postal facility. Sprenger is also optimistic about bringing an ATM back to Saanenmöser, a service that has not been available in the village for years and would undoubtedly be hugely popular with local residents and tourists alike.
premises that are twice as large than the space it currently occupies. The enlarged shop will include a small bistro corner and will offer Swiss Post services as well as tourist information from the Gstaad Saanenland Tourism (GST).
Looking for capital
SAANENMÖSER’S VILLAGE SHOP TO BE ENLARGED
In many villages small shops are rapidly disappearing, but not in Saanenmöser. “We are expanding”, emphasizes Andrea Sprenger, president of the Saanenmöser village shop cooperative. The idea to expand became concrete when the Saanenmöser branch of Frautschi Sport right next to the existing village shop decided to close down. “We learned about this in March 2017 and immediately started negotiations to take over the premises that will allow us to become the new long-term tenants,” says Sprenger. Twice as big – with a bistro corner, post office and tourist information
At 140m2, the new site is twice as large as the previous village shop. Although the shop’s range will not change much, it will offer several new services. “We will continue to offer daily necessities – from trouser
buttons to fresh bread – as well as the kiosk assortment”. After two years of negotiations with GST, the cooperative reached an agreement that will allow the shopkeepers to provide local tourist information, sell the Gstaad Card and issue ski passes. In addition to tourist office services, Swiss Post services will also be integrated into the village shop. “The idea of bundling services in our small village has existed for a long time,” explains Andrea Sprenger as she emphasizes that the icing on the cake will be the bistro corner. “We will have small snacks on offer, sandwiches, salad, Birchermüesli, and pastries. We do not want to compete with other restaurants, we see our offering as complimentary to what is already on offer in other establishments.” Convenient opening hours
The Saanenmöser village shop will be open seven days a week, all year
“Saanenmöser has a village shop again”, headlined the “Anzeiger von Saanen” in December 2003, when the project initiated by Andrea Sprenger, Elisabeth von Siebenthal and Walter Hehlen came to fruition. By supporting the project back then, locals, chalet guests and apartment owners stood up for the independence of the village and fought against a creeping reduction of the infrastructure. That has not changed today, 15 years later. “We are looking for capital,” says Andrea Sprenger. The renovation of the new premises will cost around CHF 100,000. “A nice amount has already been raised,” says Sprenger. “The people are supportive, they are happy, they think it's a great thing, and they want to support the project.” The Saanenmöser village shop is open from April to December from Monday to Friday from 7:30 to 12:30 and from 15:00 to 18:30, from 7:30 to 17:00 on Saturday, and from 8:00 to 12:00 on Sunday. In winter, the shop is open continuously. ANNE CHRISTINE KEMPTON / AVS
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PURE BODY BLISS: NEW SUMMER ACTIVITIES AT THE PALACE SPA
Estelle Gomes, the new Spa-Manager, brings all her experience and „Savoir Spa“ to the Gstaad Palace.
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Cool down or sweat it out: From Aquaflow to
to develop deep muscles, posture improvement, muscle balance and joint relaxation. Yoga, on the other hand, is an ancient practice from India, consisting of a series of poses or movements, the Asanas, whose physical and psychological benefits are manifold.
Qi-Gong, from Fit-boxing to Yoga – the summer at the Palace Spa has something for everyone. And why not try something new with Tabata?
he Olympic-sized outdoor pool, eight spa treatment rooms, a private spa suite, saunas and steam baths over 1,800 square metres, sending you on a journey of relaxation with the unique hammam experience: summer at the Palace Spa is pure bliss as it is. Add to this an array of exquisite and exclusive summer activities, and you’ll be in spa heaven.
Smooth and cool: Qi Gong and Aquaflow with Dario
For those preferring cooler activities, Aquaflow is the thing to do. A slightly more fancy version of Aquagym combined with aerobic exercises in the water, it is bound to provide you with the energy and strength you need to really cool off this summer. Our esteemed Aquaflow teacher Dario is also a master of Qi Gong – a soft and slow version of gymnastics derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine.
New ”Savoir Spa”
Since May 2018, Estelle Gomes has taken over Spa Management with her extensive experience and ”Savoir Spa”, gained from previous locations such as the Chalet RoyAlp Hotel & Spa and Six Senses. “It is a real pleasure to work at an renown place like the Gstaad Palace”, she says. “We strive to create a unique spa experience for our summer guests in these exceptionally beautiful surroundings.” Among the spa highlights this summer are the new ShivaAnanda traditional treatments, a luxurious body and facial therapy inspired by the Indian master Anand Kambli.
Sweat it out: Tabata and Fit-boxing with Massimiliano
Can’t get hot enough? Then you might need some Fit-boxing – a mix of kickboxing, cardio and karate, resulting in a harmonious blend of gymnastics and boxing accompanied by some catchy tunes. And those in the need of very effective muscle training should definitely have a go at Tabata. This highly effective technique dates back to the 1990ies, when Professor Izumi Tabata, a Japanese researcher, was approached by the coach of the Japanese National Speed Skating Team to analyse the effectiveness of a new training protocol of repeating maximum efforts for a few seconds, followed by brief periods of recovery. But beware – a sudden urge to jump into the glittering Olympic-sized outdoor pool is a commonly known side effect.
Enlightening fitness: Yoga and Pilates with Ulli
Get enlightened – and incredibly fit – with Yoga and Pilates with our experienced teacher Ulli. For those not yet in the know: Pilates is a physical fitness system developed by Joseph Pilates in the early 20th century, its aim
While the grown-ups tend to their bodies and souls, the small ones have fun learning to swim or improving their diving and swimming skills. The perfect formula for truly unforgettable summer spa magic in the Swiss Alps!
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FESTIVAL AU PAYS DES ENFANTS IN CHÂTEAU-D’OEX in the “fairy groves” surrounding the beautiful Temple on the hill. Perhaps the most popular was a 254-metre zip line that ran from just below the Temple to the sports field below; the queues for this event included both children and adults – the oldest person to take part was 86 years old! No doubt, very firmly strapped in. Since many of the events were free, the organisers were not able to pro-
During the last week of July (25-29) Château-d’Oex was overrun with children and families who came to take part in its annual summer Festival au Pays des Enfants (Children’s Festival). This was the sixth consecutive year the festival has been held and was undoubtedly one of the most successful to date.
The President of the organising committee, Line Grandjean, attributes this success to significant changes that were made to this year’s programme. Previously the festival was held over nine days and activities were spread out over the three communes of the Pays-d’Enhaut – Rougemont, Château-d’Oex and Rossinière. This year, however, all the activities were centred within the village of Château-d’Oex and the duration was shortened to five days. The programme included a wide variety of activities for children from toddlers to adolescents and 150 volunteers drawn from all segments of
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the population, including secondary residents, provided support. The main street of Château-d’Oex was closed to traffic and the village was taken over by street artists and musicians; numerous activities for children and scheduled shows by celebrated artists took place each day. The programme offered several highlights. One was a real mechanical digger, made available by a construction company; children were able to sit in the driver’s seat and, under the guidance of one of the company’s operators, manipulate the machine’s big arm to lift and move objects. Another was a treasure hunt
vide exact figures on the number of overall participants. However, all the theatrical performances were sold out, some 1,300 tickets were sold for the zip line and 1,000 for the treasure hunt. From chatting to various people on the last day of the festival it became clear that the popularity of the event is growing as families from the UK and all over Switzerland are returning each year. Next year the festival will be held from 24 to 28 July – a summer event for your calendar if you have children! GUY GIRARDET
LACK OF RAIN
THREATENS THE FISH
Many fish in small streams are suffering from the long drought that has been endured over the summer. Extra measures had to be taken to help the fish, such as having some areas of the rivers observed and scrapped.
SEVEN HOTELS IN
THE TOP 50 Seven hotels from the region have been selected to appear on the Bilanz list of Switzerland’s top 50 holiday hotels. The annual hotel ranking of the magazine Bilanz gives the Saanenland a chance to shine. Seven hotels in the top 50 means that 14% of the 50 best holiday hotels in Switzerland are located in the Saanenland. The Gstaad Palace is among the 50 top hotels, managing to make it onto the podium with second place. The Alpina Gstaad made it into the top ten, coming fourth. The other hotels that made the cut were Le Grand Bellevue Gstaad (15), Park Gstaad (27), Romantik Hotel Hornberg Saanenmöser (30), Wellness & Spa Hotel Ermitage, Schönried (32) and Huus Hotel in Saanen (35). Then to add more shine, according to the Bilanz the best doorman works right here in Gstaad. He is Oliver Desbois, who welcomes the guests at Le Grand Bellevue. Hardly anyone knows better about the importance of a first impression than he. The Frenchman works the doormen’s profession in his own charming way and acts as a turntable between the receptionist, the concierge and the guest relations manager. SOPHIE RIEDER / AVS
Everything from nature itself, animals and people suffered from the prolonged drought and high temperatures. There was a danger that smaller streams would dry up completely resulting in the fish dying. Members of the Saanenland fishing club had to resort to extreme measures in an attempt to save the fish. Among a number of things, brown trout were removed from the upper part of the Meieslgrund brook. “If possible, the trout will again be exposed in the same waters. If this drought leads to less water along the entire length of the water bed, they will be relocated to the River Saane” says club president Beat Kunz. It is not only the low water levels that are putting the fish and all other small organisms that live in the water in danger. The warm water temperature may also have an effect. “From 25C it will be critical” explains Kunz. The emergency evacuations were confirmed with the Cantonal Fisheries Inspector. The electric-powered knock-out requires special equipment and training. The Saanenland fishing club has around eleven members with the appropriate training and equipment. “We also help with bottlenecks in the communities in the Upper Simmental” emphasizes Kunz. A little more rain had fallen in the Saanenland over the past few weeks than in other areas of Switzerland, although it was still not enough to fix the problem. “The fish need at least one week of rainfall and, above all, cooler temperatures” says Beat Kunz. Although water is still too scarce to relieve the fish, at least the fire ban could be lifted. The authorities still advise caution with open fires, though, in particular near forests. SOPHIE RIEDER / AVS
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POSITIVE OUTLOO The Bergbahnen Destination Gstaad AG (BDG) recorded 18 percent more first-time admissions in the past financial year. Sales increased by CHF 3 million, the EBITDA margin rose to 27 percent and the annual profit was CHF 281,000.
Despite the positive balance, Heinz Brand, Chairman of the BDG Board of Directors, remains realistic: “We are still a long way from achieving our goal. Although we were able to increase cash flow by CHF 2 million year-on-year to CHF 7.2 million, we still have a lot of catching up to do in the EBITDA margin.” BDG’s Managing Director Matthias In-Albon explains: “Well-functioning mountain railways generate an EBITDA margin of between 30 and 35 percent. According to the business plan, EBITDA is expected to increase continuously to 35 percent over the next five years. “Such encouraging figures are only possible because we are also generously supported by the public sector,” emphasizes Brand. An end to the negative spiral
The negative spiral of decreasing numbers in first-time admissions was stopped in fiscal year 2017/18 with an increase of 18 percent. “If more people are on the slopes, the restaurants also benefit,” says In-Albon. Admissions revenues including catering revenues rose by CHF 3 million. “Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization increased disproportionately, so that we were again able to make higher write-downs than necessary for business operations.” Depreciation and amortization amounted to CHF 6.8 million. “Everything we invested in the restaurants has been written off, as has most of the new snow-making infrastructure and almost all the mountain lifts,” explains In-Albon. “We want to equip
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ourselves for the future and position the company as leanly as possible.” The bottom line is a symbolic annual profit of CHF 281,000, compared with CHF 100,000 a year ago. Top4 ski pass a success
“The massive increase in the number of first-time entrants is largely due to the Top4 ski pass,” emphasizes Brand. The promotional ski pass which grants access to the Adelboden-Lenk, Gstaad, Jungfrau und Meiringen-Hasliberg ski regions was introduced for the 2017/2018 ski season. “We bet on the right horse, it has been a win-win situation for all four regions involved.” There has been a lot of positive feedback, with many people discovering or rediscovering the destination as a ski region. “In recent years, our destination has been less and less perceived as a ski destination in the Mittelland, Basel or Zurich,” explains In-Albon. The BDG recorded a decline in sales from the Pays-d'Enhaut to Bulle catchment area. “However, this was made up for by the significant increase in sales with the Top4 ski pass.” The Top4 ski pass will continue to be sold next winter, when it will also be possible to purchase access to the Glacier 3000 as add-on to the basic package. Access to the Glacier 3000 was previously only available as a separate ticket. While other destinations rely on alternative price models such as early-bird discounts, the BDG is sticking to its strategy. “Discounts are unsuccessful in the long run”, In-Al-
bon and Brand agree and emphasize: “Our season ski passes are only available at reduced rates during the advanced sales period”. New mountain lifts expected to boost sales
The BDG is expecting an additional boost thanks to the new Saanerslochbahn, which will begin operating this winter. “We hope – in addition to the Top4 offer – to attract an increasing number of guests”, says In-Albon. Similarly, high expectations are held for the new Eggli gondola, which is planned for next year. The approval procedure is currently underway and if everything goes according to plan, construction will begin next spring. Artificial snow helps secure continued success
Over the last two years, the BDG has
OK FOR THE BDG BDG
Matthias In-Albon (left) and Heinz Brand hope for an increase in visitors next winter thanks to the new Saanerslochbahn.
invested CHF 10 million in snowmaking. “There will be no new facilities for the next two years,” says In-Albon, but the long-term goal of establishing snow cannons in Chaltenbrunnen-Parwengen, and enlarging of the Hornberg lake are still in place. “70 percent of the slopes are snow-covered, which is a good prerequisite for a successful winter. And if it doesn't storm or rain during the two sports holiday weeks and just one weekend is better than last year, I am confident we will see this positive trend continue”. Brand and In-Albon emphasize that it is now necessary to stay the course and continue to implement the restructuring plan step by step. Operating sustainably
It is a well-known fact that the operation of mountain lifts and snowmaking systems consumes many
resources – diesel, water, electricity. Nevertheless, sustainability is an important topic for the BDG, according to In-Albon. “The BDG markets nature and mountain experiences, so an intact environment is our most important resource,” emphasizes In-Albon. “Wherever possible, we want to make our contribution.” For example, the two new Saanerslochbahn stations will be equipped with solar cells or, thanks to environmental and energy management strategies already in place, direct and indirect CO2 emissions and the use of raw materials, like water, will be reduced. The BDG has also gone to great lengths to keeping the added value of their projects in the region. For example, 95 percent of the work was outsourced to local companies and wherever possible, regional and sustainably produced goods were purchased from suppliers in the region. Collaborative efforts bear fruit
“Last year’s discussions and exchanges between the BDG, Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus (GST), hotelier association, and trade association have borne fruit: the BDG is on course”, says Brand. “This is only possible because we are so generously supported by the public sector,” he emphasizes. “We must now continue along the path we have embarked upon with determination and, if necessary, make unpopular decisions.”
ANNE CHRISTINE KEMPTON / AVS
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OF BELLS For this last interview of the summer, GstaadLife met with Mr Hannes Moor, who contributed the section on the Schopfer bells to the recently published book Passion. This short interview cannot do justice to the range and depth of this subject. For anyone interested in learning more, Moor gives guided tours in the Museum der Landschaft Saanen on request. Mr Moor, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you became so interested in the Schopfer bells?
I am a vet by profession and was born in Saanen. When I was a young boy I used to spend time in the village with my friends and we would often linger in front of the old Schopfer foundry. At that time, there were still many different tradesmen in the region and the last bell-founder (Alfred von Siebenthal) was still alive. We were lucky enough to be able to watch them working and see what they were doing. The presence of the old man Schopfer – Charles, the most well-known – was always felt, even though he had died in 1922. Many people talked about him. This all fascinated us – the man, the foundry, and the secret that surrounded this work. What is the tradition behind the use of cowbells?
It’s a very old tradition dating back to the 15th century, based on the notion that the bells chase away evil – even sickness – and attract goodness. They put bells on cows to purify the region as the cows moved around. Only small cowbells were used; the big cowbells don’t date back that far. You have to understand, these farmers were very aware. This notion that the high mountains were haunted also existed in other mountainous cultures – in Tibet for example they fly prayer flags of different colours, featuring various symbols to ward off evil spirits.
When are the big cowbells used?
The bigger bells are used when the cows go up or come down from the summer pastures, the inalp and the desalp; they are also occasionally used for special festivities. These big bells are heavy – weighing as much as 8 kilograms – so are worn by the larger and older cows. For a cow that weighs about 700 kilograms this is not too heavy. There are two types of bell. One is forged from iron and the other is cast in bronze in a mould. The forged bells (sonnailles) have a deeper sound, a more earthy sound, that gives a rhythm when the cows are walking. A good cow will make the bell ring in a specific rhythm – rather like a good dancer – and with this rhythm the herd can walk much faster and further. It’s like soldiers on the march, when they are tired they start singing in order to energize themselves. The big bells also prevent the herd from stopping and grazing all the time.
So the cowbells are not simply to help the farmers find their cows?
I understand there is a specific procession for the desalp/inalp?
This is one of the reasons. The farmers put small cowbells on the cows in the summer pastures to help locate their animals and to know what they are doing – walking, running or chewing the cud. The bell is a signal, you can hear it coming, you can even know who it is if you know the configuration of bells. A farmer with a good ear can tell you who is coming by and with which herd of cows.
Yes. In Saanenland you may find white Saanen goats at the head of the herd, led by a young girl or boy – this signifies chastity and purity. Then comes harmony – those who
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age, who hasn’t grown up with this tradition, cannot really understand how important it is to us. It’s not something that you can understand with the intellect, you need to feel it, it’s closer to intuition in this respect. Science can’t explain everything. The sound of bells has been associated with increased levels of happiness hormones. If I hear a herd of cows coming with their cowbells, I get goose pimples.
have stayed with the cows over the summer walk at the head, followed by the alpha cow, the strongest cow, wearing the biggest sonnaille and leading the other cows. The alpha cow’s bell is forged in the form of a heart as opposed to a bell. After that it’s the people who help in the mountain pastures or members of the family, who separate the subsequent groups of cows. It’s important that these different groups don’t get mixed up; they have to remain in this order. At the end come the heifers and calves. Within the ensemble the cowbells are also harmonised. Each bell is an orchestra so the farmer needs to arrange these five or seven ‘orchestras’ to combine and produce an even greater orchestra. The practice of harmonised cowbells is particularly prevalent and professional in Saanenland, thanks to the famous Charles Schopfer, who was capable of creating bells that could ring together, rather like church bells. The old Schopfer ensemble would comprise 5 or 7 bells – always an odd number. Within a herd would there be more than one ensemble of cowbells?
Not so long ago a farmer who had 8 cows was already a big farmer. If he had a set of 5 bells plus 2 or 3 sonnailles it was more than enough! An ensemble represented a big investment; it was a sign of wealth, something of a status symbol. Now this has changed – bigger herds, more sonnailles, less bells. Do the cowbells have a religious and spiritual significance?
Absolutely. Bells were originally the reserve of churches and, according to tradition, the farmers were only able to put bells on cows if they added Christian symbols to the bells. These symbols were created in the
I read in your book that Swiss mercenaries weren’t allowed to yodel or listen to cowbells because it made them so homesick that they would desert.
What effect do cowbells have on you?
Yes, at that time the farmers were very poor and many became mercenaries in order to make money. In my section of the book I talk about the relationship between bells, the planets and the cosmos. Each human being is a small cosmos so these sounds produce a certain resonance in each of us. Imagine, if you are fighting in a war, far from home, as soon as you hear a sound that is very deep and familiar to you, it immediately takes you back to your homeland and reminds you of situations in the past that moved you deeply. This sound opens the heart.
The bells touch me so deeply that it’s not possible to explain. It’s more than pure emotion. Someone who has not heard cowbells from a very young
This seems to illustrate that the bells can have a profound effect on an individual.
bells, but for the sonnailles they were inscribed on the halters. Do the bells make the cows deaf?
No, not at all. Each bell is a small orchestra producing a harmony of sounds – about 12 that are audible and about 20 that we do not hear. This harmony of sounds is less harmful to the hearing than a single sound and is not louder than 100 decibels.
BOOK PASSION The book Passion is available at the Museum der Landschaft Saanen and in bookshops in Saanenland. All texts are in French and German.
Yes, and it can even be an unconscious effect. The resonance can touch parts of our inner world that we don’t usually access. We are normally imprisoned by our emotions and all of a sudden this can open us to an inner world. These are concepts and aspects that some people may find challenging or even strange – we are all influenced by our own traditions and conditioning. GUY GIRARDET
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If you had a look at the Menhuin Festival programme, you were probably just as impressed by it as I was. The sheer number of worldclass artists to choose from made deciding which performance to see
programme for children and young adults, which aims to awaken their enthusiasm for classical music.
tricky. Generally speaking, they say you can’t go wrong if you follow your heart, and mine was in the mood for romance. Lucky for me, Julia Lezhneva was scheduled to sing a programme of Love Arias at the Church in Saanen. And she did not disappoint.
Lezhneva delivered a mesmerizing exploration of love through her flawless renditions of arias by Porpora, Graun, Handel and Vivaldi. Accompanied by the Chamber Orchestra of Basel, a longtime partner of the Menuhin Festival, Lezhneva’s angelic voice at times sprightly, at times spiritual, at times distraught filled the Church in Saanen.
including The Bolshoi Theater, The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, Zurich Tonhalle and Lincoln Center in New York, this summer she returned to the Menuhin Festival for the second time. Her first appearance in the Saanenland was in 2016 when she stepped in for Diana Damrau to present a programme focused on Italian opera.
Lezhneva’s record label, Decca Classics, says it’s often claimed that a particular artist is “born to sing”, but rarely is it so literally true as in the case of Julia Lezhneva. Her future as an opera singer was foretold the moment she was born into a family of geophysicists on the Russian island of Sakhalin in 1989. Lezhneva says: “Apparently when I was delivered, I shouted out so suddenly that the doctor almost dropped me and he said to my mum ‘she’s a born opera singer!’ Imagine that! It’s such an amazing thing.” Having since graced the world’s most prestigious stages,
Since its founding in 1957, one of the Menuhin Festival’s main tenets has been to foster and promote the talent of exceptional young artists. But the Festival’s interest in including younger generations goes beyond performers. Before the Love Arias concert began, youths between the ages of 12 to 20 were given the opportunity to meet with Lezhneva, violinist Nina Candik, and the Festival’s music educator, Anne-Christine Cettou to talk about classical music, hear from the artists themselves, and have a behind-the-scene look. This was part of the Festival’s Discovery
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After the special introductory session, it was time for the concert. The Love Arias programme took on a conversational tone between the instrumental pieces performed by the Basel Chamber Orchestra, accompanied by Simon Lilly on the hornpipe for a rendition of Let the Bright Seraphim from Handel’s Samson, and Lezhneva’s serene voice. All of which were perfectly enhanced by the natural acoustics of the Saanen Church. Lezhneva’s performance exuded romance convincingly, her singing was deep and meaningful, and her demeanor thankful. The audience was also appreciative and after much clapping and foot stomping at the end of the concert we were rewarded with two encores. The last of which was the icing on the cake: a memorable rendition of Handel’s Lascia la Spina Cogni la Rosa, which ended the evening on a high yet thought-provoking note. If love is an emotional rollercoaster then the performers of the Love Arias programme replicated these feelings perfectly. A true delight. ANNE CHRISTINE KEMPTON
ARTS & CULTURE
LEZHNEVA DELIVERS EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER
SPORTS & LEISURE
The winning teams of this year's Rally & Yachting in the Clubhouse in Gstaad
FROM THE ENGINES TO THE WATERS Since 2006, the Gstaad Yacht Club has organised an annual classic car rally in collaboration with the Gstaad Automobile Club, which combines a ride along some of the most beautiful roads in Switzerland with remote-controlled model boat sailing.
n Friday evening, all the pilots and co-pilots met at the GAC for the traditional get-together and registration. Before getting up on to the Lac Rétaud, drivers had to prove their attention skills – driving a 16.66 metre challenge blind folded. The wind conditions on the lake allowed for one round of model boat sailing. In the fabulously renovated mountain restaurant, the evening continued with a dinner party. The next morning, with sun rising above the clubhouse, all 22 cars were lined up for the start in front of Le Grand Bellevue. The participants started their engines and headed towards their second special stage above the Val de Travers. The 22 cars were challenged in the last special stage by driving an average of 50 km/h on the last 5km. Crossing four cantons, Berne, Vaud, Fribourg and Neuchâtel, the cars were making their way down to Môtiers, the capital of Absinth. They were welcomed with an aperitif in the artistic gardens of Château Ivernois to visit Le Manège – the classic car collection of the Burckhardt-Felder Foundation. This was followed by the traditional lunch at the restaurant Les Six Communes and a visit to the Maison de l’Absinth.
In the afternoon, the cars followed the route back through the forests and vineyards above the lake Neuchâtel down to the finish line in Champagne. Finally, everybody got together for the prize giving dinner at the GYC Clubhouse. The team seized the occasion to create the Triple C – Classic Car Cocktail 2018 – matching the topic of the day, infused with Absinth. The winner of the 12th edition of the Rally & Yachting, a 1973 Ferrari Dino 246, was followed by a 1970 Mercedes 208 SE and a 1980 Morgan 8+. GSTAAD YACHT CLUB
BAR GOES GREEN Plastic waste is a huge problem, mainly but not only in the oceans. To reduce waste at the GYC, the service team has tested a range of alternatives to straws, stirrers and cocktail sticks. They looked at options made of paper, glass and metal amongst others. Eventually they opted for bamboo utensils and pasta straws, both easily disposable and biodegradable. Cheers!
GstaadLife 6 I 2018
E R E H T E OR
S D A O R E R E W
Getting the cows up to the alps to make cheese isn’t easy. Fifty years ago, it was unbelievably challenging.
Midway up the Sunnigi Louwene, the ‘sunny’ flank of the Lauenenhorn to the northeast of Lauenen, lies the fragment of a dirt track in the midst of a farmer’s field, detached from any paved road. Two muddy ruts a wagon axle’s-width apart extend for a distance of about sixty meters. This otherwise nondescript slash in the grassy slope is a remnant of the old Torweg, or ‘horse wagon track’ that once provided access to the farms that dot the hillside. And since the current paved road has only been around since the early 1970s, memories of the effort required for travel up to the high alp pastures or down into town are still pretty fresh among the area’s more seasoned residents. Alpine transhumance, or the seasonal movement of grazing livestock between valleys in the winter and high mountain pastures in the summer, has been practiced in the Saanenland for at least a millennium, and perhaps for several. Anyone with more than a casual acquaintance with the Gstaad area will likely have seen the Züglete, the twice-yearly sashay
GstaadLife 6 I 2018
of bovines in flowered headdresses down the Promenade, escorted by their traditionally-costumed family minders, who reprise the age-old ritual of relocating the cows from the sweet, floral grass that gives Alpkäse its distinctive flavor to the warm wood stalls of their winter lager. But today this mostly occurs on paved roads, the same ones that the farmers utilize to bring trailers full of milk down daily in metal cans to the local Molkerei, a journey that might take an hour round-trip. Fifty years ago, in Lauenen, that asphalt strip was a wagon track where the land was steep, and little better than a footpath elsewhere. Farmers had to prioritize their travel according to their distance from town and what conveyance was available. Often milk was brought down by horse wagon, or, for the fortunate, by an Einachsschlepper, a two-wheel tractor where the driver steers the pulling-engine motorcycle-style from a seat on the trailer. Needless to say, transit times were considerably longer. Farmers were forced to make concessions to their agricultural output that are no longer practiced today. Back then, cheese was made on the alp as it is today, but it had to be
stored there in a cellar until it could be brought down, often on frame backpacks. In winter, most of the milk was separated by centrifuge into cream, which meant less weight on the sled down to the cream collection depot in town. The remaining milk skimmed from the creaming process would be fed to pigs and calves. Cream could also be churned into butter, which lasted longer. Grass, the driving component of milk and cheese production, was also handled differently. Instead of today’s rapid transport by helicopter or truck as soon as it is cut, dried and baled, in the old days it had to be stored with care onsite in barns (if poorly dried, grass can ferment and self-ignite under the right conditions). High alpine summer grass would be stored over winter, and brought down when needed on Horeschlitte, which were skeletal sleds with high-curved runners that were lowered on ropes through steep, vertical cuts in the forests and steered by courageous drivers. Naturally, it was extremely dangerous. So, the next time you pop into the local Molkerei for some butter, milk or cheese, give a thought to the local farmers, who still put in a lot of hard work today. ALEX BERTEA
When I was young we washed out milk bottles, donated aluminum cans to charity appeals and enthusiastically returned fizzy pop bottles to shopkeepers, earning 5p-per-bottle deposits as a nifty way to top up our weekly pocket money allowances.
In a matter of weeks we were converts to this uncomplicated system and the financial rewards it offered. We became recycling wizards and were soon separating four loads of recycling for every yellow tax bag. Interesting junk
None of this was called ‘recycling’ at the time, of course; it simply made sense to re-use where possible and save money at the same time. Decades later recycling is all the vogue, but it’s not always made easy. A lot could be learned from Saanenland.
Sometimes, though, you have to get rid of large items that aren’t classified as household waste. For this we were advised to go to the AVAG recycling centre at Oey, on the outskirts
I should end with a brief word of caution on rubbish collection in Switzerland. As an expat you hear lots of stories about Swiss rules (don’t run water in an apartment after 22:00, don’t use a lawnmower on Sundays, don’t do this, don’t do that…). While the most outlandish tales are often little more than scaremongering, they can unhappily contain more than a grain of truth.
Pay per bag
Rubbish collection in the region happens by way of ‘tax bags’: battleship grey for the canton of Bern and buttercup yellow for Vaud. These bags have a rubbish collection tax levied on them which pays for their disposal. This makes them more expensive to buy than regular black bags, but if you want to throw away rubbish in the municipal containers, these are the only ones you can use. We soon learned that family-sized cereal boxes, beer and wine bottles took up way too much space in the tax bags, however much we crunched them down. We were getting through roll after roll of yellow bags and it was starting to add up. We were living in Rougemont at the time and always drove our rubbish to the municipal bins at the train station. It didn’t take long for us to notice all the other containers in the same location where we could throw away stuff for free, including glass, cardboard, paper, batteries, oil and PET bottles.
Despite all these positives I avoid taking our youngest son there. He, like his father, is a bit of a magpie and can’t resist hunting through piles of interesting-looking junk in the hope of unearthing something salvageable. My husband once found an unopened bottle of 1950 Armagnac in a roadside skip, but my son is less discerning. Ski boots, old radios, power supplies, a fish tank: you name it, he finds it. We rarely leave with an empty car. Be warned
of Saanen on the road to Rougemont. It’s open on Monday to Friday from 08:00 – 11:00 and 13:00 – 17:00 and from 13:00 – 15:00 on the first and third Saturdays of the month. This has got to be the tidiest, most spick-and-span refuse centre I have ever visited. And the most organised. You stop on a weighbridge going into and coming out of the dump and what you pay is calculated according to weight.
Not long after we moved to Switzerland I decided to throw away an envelope of unwanted marketing material into a rubbish bin on Gstaad Promenade. I thought no more about it until I received a CHF 80 fine through the post a few days later, together with a photocopy of the envelope I had thrown away, my name and address circled. I no longer recall what transgression I had committed, but a quick conversation with the ladies in Saanen got the situation sorted and the fine overturned. But it was an Orwellian reminder that recycling and rubbish collection around here is serious business. ANNA CHARLES
GstaadLife 6 I 2018
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