Make Yodeling great again

Toni from Zell am See is a talented actor. If he isn’t yodelling on the Schmittenhöhe – an apparently unbelievably perfect place for yodelling because of the multi-echo, thanks to the topography – then he can be seen on theatre and musical stages, at the drums or performing in reggae bands. Yodelling is entertainment, of course. But yodelling makes happy too, so Thomas Reitsamer, the alpine performer, who would like to change from the “Kuhtuttn-Jodler“ yodelling for Hollywood one day.

The local yodelling hero, who was brought up in a musical family, greets me with: “Yodelling is not just entertainment, it’s part of my soul“. In the meantime, grinning Dutch and other holidaymakers are taking their places for an hour-long introduction into the diverse world of yodelling with its yelps of delight, chirrups and special breathing techniques with Thomas Reitsamer. A journey to the musical self, accompanied by vibrations and vibes that are really good for the body. The treatment is called “Yodelling at the mountain“ and takes place at the local mountain of Zell am See, the Schmittenhöhe, every Thursday in July and August. Free of charge, by the way (Note: The yodelling course is included in the mountain railway ticket). And so the show begins! Good air, a 360°-panorama and a, in part satirical, lesson in the art of alpine music. What Toni does here is probably some entertainment but it doesn’t come across as an act because he does it with his heart and soul.

The DNA of yodelling: healing.

It starts with the “Kuhtuttn-Jodler“ as an icebreaker because the piece is played out in group choreography right at the beginning of the course. Thomas shows how it’s done, the trainees follow him – although aesthetically not always correct. But the permanently repeated “Hae-i-di – Ho-i-di“ is quite easy for most of the volunteers. There are even rumours that a lady travelled especially from Salzburg to the Pinzgau District just to see this show. The participants do knee bends, up and down, again and again; it looks like an out-of-season warm-up for skiing but it is holistic body yodelling and is obviously great fun. And that’s what this inclusive offer of the Zell mountain railways is all about. Toni sends people who spend their summer holiday here – whether on a short break or a long family stay – on their way to one of the many hiking trails or directly back to the valley in a gondola with a big, happy smile on their face. Anyway, that’s it. There is no more to it but it still makes for a great holiday story at the regulars‘ table in a Dutch pub. There is also a certificate documenting the accomplished course and to put in a pride of place above the mantelpiece at home. And anyway, the participants apparently still perform the “Kuhtuttn-Jodler“ in replay mode at the hotel or elsewhere for days afterwards, so ”Yodel Master“ Reitsamer.

My goal is Hollywood.

Besides the entertainment, yodelling has also a healing effect on the human body, thanks to the vibes. Special vibrations, similar to the Mongolian overtone singing, are created and Thomas is convinced: “Yodelling gets you in a good mood”. Of course, people are startled when he yodels short but loud at the airport in New York City, but everyone seems to feel happy afterwards and that is just cool. Whether an exclusive yodel course booked by a hundred Americans or a yodel show on stage in front of thousand people – anything is possible. One gets the feeling that the Pinzgau District will soon be too small for him.

Thomas Reitsamer is a talented animator. An entertainer. A pro! But it would not be right to reduce him just to that part. I become all calm inside, even devout, latest when he performs the Erzherzog-Johann-Jodler from the noble depths of his young musician’s soul away from the performance for the tourists on the mountain stage at the “Schmitten”. Admittedly, this spectacle is set in beautiful scenery here on the mountain. And a historically condensed piece like this creates a very special, emotional soundscape when performed at the mountain. But there is more to Toni‘s spontaneous performance. It’s a statement. A silent cry of liberation as the necessary unmasking of the regionally rooted Pinzgau family man. In the end, the vibrations, the sound and the breathing technique is what shapes the very essence of his being. Because this is his home, here are his musical roots. Hollywood is far, far away right now. And that is a good thing. Thank you, Thomas.