The Zillis Church


The Romans had already settled in the village of Zillis. The first village church dates back to about the 6th century. The church at the mouth of the forbidding Viamala gorge (Canton of Graubünden) was there to provide spiritual and physical relief for the brave travellers daring to cross the alps.

The ceiling of the church was painted between 1109 to 1114 and consist of 153 wooden panels. An unknown artist painted the panels with a very interesting Christian perspective of the world. The panels are still vibrant with colours and interesting motifs.

Basically the gospel is presented such as the birth of Christ, his temptation, his baptism, his life and his death on the cross. However there is no hint of his resurrection. If ever we have a chance we would love to explain to you some of stories of panels above.

The Zillis Church 2018-11-27T08:12:53+00:00

Stabat Mater


Lent is the season (of about 6 weeks) leading up to Easter. In this season often sacred music concerts get performed in churches or concert halls up and down the country. As it is still chilly and often wet too it is wonderful to attend such an event.

I just attended the Stabat Mater concert by Rossini at the reformed church in Burgdorf. The Stabat Mater is actually a 13th century latin catholic hymn to Mary. Mary, the mother of Jesus, suffered immensely as she witnessed how her son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross crucified. Many different composer such as Vivaldi, Domenico, Scarlatti, Haydn, Rossini, Dvorak, Verdi and others composed music to this latin text.

It is quite interesting that the Stabat Mater is clearly from a catholic tradition, with a strong emphasis on the mother of Jesus. Reformed theology would rather focus on the son, Jesus Christ and his redeeming work on the cross. However today the Stabat Mater is acknowledged as a cultural heritage that is also fully accepted and enjoyed by a reformed or a secular audience.

Stabat Mater 2018-03-12T11:37:34+00:00

Wilhelm Tell


Tell is Switzerland’s legendary freedom fighter and the national hero of the country. The legend dates back the 14th century and takes place in the old Swiss Confederacy.

The story of Tell was written at the beginning of the 19th century as a play by the famous German poet Friedrich Schiller. It has been translated into many languages and is also known in China.

Tell was known as an excellent marksman with the crossbow. Gessler was the tyrannical representative of Habsburg stationed in Altdorf, in the canton of Uri. The tyrant raised a pole and hung his hat on top of it. He demanded that all passing by had to bow before his hat.

On November 18, 1307 Tell visited Altdorf with his young son and passed the hat without bowing to it. Tell got arrested. Gessler was upset about the boldness of Tell and wanted to punish him cruelly. Gessler commanded Tell to use his crossbow. Tell should shoot an apple off his son’s head, otherwise both, father and son, would be executed.

Tell hit the apple indeed. When challenged by Gessler, why he had prepared two bolts and not just one, Tell answered, that if he had hit his son he would have shot the tyrant.

Immediately Tell was arrested again and brought to Gessler’s boat to be taken to the castle in Küssnacht. A storm broke out on Lake Lucerne and Tell was able to save himself. He ran across to Küssnacht and waited for his enemy, who had to pass by this road. Gessler arrived and Tell killed him, thus riding the area from the tyrant.

During the summer season Schillers’ play is newly interpreted and acted out in Interlaken. It is very dramatic and is played on a natural stage. Almost a hundred people, mostly volunteers, are involved in acting. The play takes about 2 hours, starting at 8 pm and finishing at 10pm. It is acted in Swiss German and German. We are happy to translate the story simultaneousiously into Chinese as it unfolds before our eyes.

Wilhelm Tell 2017-08-22T22:05:48+00:00

Zakhar Bron Academy Prodigies


Recently we were treated to a concert by a few students of the Zakhar Bron Academy in Interlaken. We were blown away by the young soloists playing at a level beyond belief!

Professor Zakhar Bron has a Russian background and is a master violinist. He has won prizes at the world’s most prestigious competitions including the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels and the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition in Poznan.

The gentleman is a very active retiree. About a 100 days a year he lives in Interlaken, where he teaches master classes to young people with an outstanding talent. Professor Bron is able to individually coach the best out of his students, who travel from all over the world to Interlaken to be taught by him for a week or two. When Professor Bron isn’t residing in Interlaken he travels the world teaching, playing music and looking out for young prodigies!

In the concert we attended the youngest violin soloist was a girl, barely 10 years old, with a British and Chinese background. She played the very demanding Tschaikowski’s Souvenir d’un lieu, op 42.

Elli Choi from Korea, Eleanor D’Melon from Jamaika and Elvin Ganiyew from Turkey and Azerbaijan and a few other extremely promising young people performed as well. We, the listeners were were just stunned by the skills and the ease with which these young people played extremely difficult, demanding and beautiful classical music.

When Professor Bron teaches in Interlaken his master classes are open to the public. Check the net for a classical treat in Interlaken or find out, when he is near you.

Zakhar Bron Academy Prodigies 2016-08-15T15:29:49+00:00

Graffiti – Art or Vandalism?


In Switzerland you will often find walls along the train tracks or the highways sprayed with graffitis. Daily heaps of people pass by and will catch a glimpse of these acts of vandalism or in same cases truly a piece of art.

The police are on the lookout for illegal sprayers and when caught bring them to justice. Often the sprayers are teenagers and will have to pay dearly for their acts of vandalism.

Sprayers from the city of Berne often use 031 as a signature. This is the phone area code of the city of Berne.

Each year enormous sums are spent on removing graffiti from places where they don’t belong. Every owner of a house is obliged to have a house insurance. Depending on the location of the house one is wise to include coverage for removing graffitis.

The graffiti in the picture is definitely a piece of art. It is part of the Reitschule in Berne. In another blog I will tell you more of this interesting and politically hotly debated place.

Graffiti – Art or Vandalism? 2017-08-03T12:14:27+00:00

Mendelssohn’s Oratorio St. Paul


Sunday, December 27 at 5 pm, we enjoyed the very beautiful oratorio (with a larger choir, orchestra and soloists) of St. Paul by Mendelssohn. The concert took place in the culture Casino of Berne. Lena-Lisa Wüstendörfer was conducting the Berne Bach Choir and the orchestra of Europa. Outstanding was the soprano Anne-Florence Marbot.

The oratorio recounts the story of how Saul was persecuting the first Christians. He then encountered the risen Christ and experienced a radical conversion. From then on he was called Paul. The oratorio goes on to tell how Paul became the first Christian missionary.

In 1836 the German Jewish Felix Mendelssohn wrote this marvellous oratorio of St. Paul. His music is very much influenced by Johann Sebastian Bach. Mendelssohn’s more conservative music style set him apart from contemporaries such as Liszt, Wagner or Berlioz.

Mendelssohn’s Oratorio St. Paul 2016-02-11T17:47:36+00:00