germanngehrig2Patric Gehrig & Saskya Germann
collaborate, one creating the props and costumes and the other creating the performances. For Out of Site performance in 2019 they have been thinking about the topography of the city. Coming from the mountainess region of Lucerne in Switzerland, the landscape of Chicago is dramatically flat in comparison.

They are mixing the concept of the traditional prayer The “Betruf” of the alpine dairymen and shepherds, which is called and sung daily on many Alps of Central Switzerland during the time of cattle summering. At the end of a long working day, an alpine dairyman looks for a suitable, if possible elevated place. By placing his hands funnel-shaped around his mouth or using a “Folle” (wooden milk funnel), he produces a sound that can be heard from far away and, in good weather conditions, even down into the valley.

The recitation of the prayer caller has the function of a protective ritual. In dialectal High German he asks God, Mary, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and various saints to protect all living beings on the alp from disaster and especially from the dangers of the night. Thunderstorms, predators, epidemics or spirits are often mentioned by name as a threat.

On the territory of present-day Switzerland, the “Ave-Mariarueffen”, as it was called at that time, can be found for the first time in the 16th century on the Pilatus Alps. However, its origins probably date back to the late Middle Ages.

From the point of view of music history, comparisons can be made with litanies and biblical recitations. The “Betruf” can be interpreted as a popularized Gregorian chant, which has developed over centuries in the Catholic alpine regions and is still handed down orally among the Alpine dairymen and shepherds today.

The core of the “Betruf” is the articulation of praise and petition addressed to the higher powers of heaven. Behind this is the intention to keep harmful influences away from the alp. Most of the recited verses fulfill the function of spell formulas. The practice of exclamation is linked to the idea that the requested protection is spatially effective as far as the sound of the speech song reaches. That is why the alpine dairymen try to read every single line as loudly as possible and never let the every evening process fail.

This gives you a little background to the context of the performance that will happen starting at 5pm each day throughout Wicker Park Fest.