Victoria musician is 'shellebrating' after winning conch shell blowing contest
KEY WEST, FLA. -- A woman who plays the French Horn in the Royal Canadian Navy took top honors in Key West’s 58th annual Conch Shell Blowing Contest Saturday.
Alliszon Zaichkowski of Victoria, British Columbia, won the women’s title performing excerpts from several melodies including composer Igor Stravinsky’s “The Firebird” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
She’s such a fan of the quirky “instrument” that she had a large conch shell tattooed on her arm.
“I like to think of the conch shell as my travel horn, because I can’t bring my French horn everywhere and you also don’t want to be playing a French horn at the beach,” she said. “So, I always just take my conch shell with me and that’s my vacation instrument.”
In the men’s division, Vinnie Marturano of Big Pine Key tooted his way to victory by playing a portion of Aram Khachaturian’s “Sabre Dance.”
The fluted, pink-lined conch shell, an enduring symbol of the Florida Keys, has been used as a signaling device in the islands for centuries. Today, native-born residents are known as Conchs and the Keys island chain is often called the Conch Republic.