BELLEVILLE - Swiss musicians Lorenz Schwarz and Ernst Baenninger won't be selling cough drops when they bring their alphorns to the Big Valley this April.
Their instruments, probably best known from the Ricola cough drop commercials, will be the centerpiece of the concerts performed April 20 and 21 in Mifflin County.
Schwarz and Baenninger call their music unique not only because of the unusual long, wooden instruments but also because of the Christian message that they bring with them.
Swiss musicians Lorenz Schwarz and Ernst Baenninger will play their alphorn during two concerts in Belleville and Allensville next week.
Schwarz used to dream about playing the alphorn during his summers as a child in the Swiss Alps, according to the testimony on his website, www.lorenzschwarz.ch.
But as a young adult, his life became filled with drugs and despair.
"I finally came to a point of desperation and could not see any further," Schwarz said. "That was when God started working in my life ..."
After a failed suicide attempt, Schwarz walked to the pubs to get drunk and try again. On the way, two girls invited him to watch a Christian film.
The film didn't make a lot of sense to him, but it left him with a question: "If you die today, would you be ready to face God?"
That question nagged at his mind; and a few months later, Schwarz committed his life to Christ. He immediately gave up his smoking and drinking habits.
Now, he has dedicated his life to spreading the healing power of Christ through music.
Schwarz and Baenninger's concerts will include traditional music on the alphorns and non-typical yodeling songs.
The musicians are friends of local resident John Zook, who plans to assist them during their three-week tour across the U.S.
Because of the strong German and Swiss ancestry in Mifflin County, Zook said the concerts should be of special interest. He said the alphorn and yodeling music will give listeners a taste of their forefathers' culture.
"That the songs all embody messages of appreciation/redemption to our Creator God is a bonus," Yoder said.
The songs will be performed in German, but translations will be projected on a screen, he said.
The first local concert will be held at 7 p.m. April 21 at Sam Peachey's Airport, 100 Plane View Drive, Belleville.
A light dinner will be held for those who wish to meet the Swiss musicians at 6 p.m. at Sam and Barb Peachey's home, Allison Gap Road, Belleville. RSVP by noon Saturday by calling 483-6254. The cost for the meal will be $5.
There is no cost for the concert, but an offering will be taken.
The Swiss musicians will play again at 7 p.m. April 22 at the Mattawana Mennonite Church, 521 State Route 103 N., Lewistown. For more information, call 899-7170.
While visiting, the alphorn players also plan to perform for residents at the Valley View Retirement Community in Belleville and Malta Home Retirement in Granville.