Prayer for the Sun

Nahuatl Prayer for the Sun Before Traveling is based on a pre-Columbian text. It is a soundscape, a poem set to music, an acoustic travel reportage, the portrait of a land and the recording of its language and its culture before they are lost.

The idea for this piece arose back in 1994 during a stay in New York (scholarship from the Berlin Senate for Science, Research and Culture), where I was looking for some inspiration for a new project: the basic theme was language as a vehicle for culture.

In the Poets House I came across a book called Snake Poems - an Aztec Invocation by the young poet Francisco X. Alarcón. The poet, who lives in California, has based his recent work on spells and prayers of the Aztecs. Snake Poems includes poems in Nahuatl from the time before Cortés, which Alarcón translated into English and contemporary poems in English and Spanish that reflect the spirit of the past.

Nahuatl While I was setting some of the contemporary and old texts to music for a small number of instruments and electronics, I got ever more absorbed in the fascinating world of the ancient Aztecs and did research at various New York museums and other institutions. I continued these studies at the Ibero-American Institute in Berlin and the Museo de Antropología y Historia in Mexico City.

Between 1995 and 1997 I made three working visits to Mexico, spending time in small villages in the state of Guerrero, where Nahuatl is still spoken. Here I made field and speech recordings and recordings of the Nahuatl texts.

Prayer for the Sun Before Traveling is a work which brought a creative phase to a preliminary close. In this piece I didn't use any kind of electronic sound editing but only original recordings of Beth Griffith, Normisa Pereira da Silva and Michael Ranta together with the field recordings I had made in Oktober 1997 in Guerrero / Mexico.

The composition was nominated for the Prix Ars Acustica, WDR Köln and the Karl-Sczuka-Preis and has won the first prize in the international competition "Soundscapes voor 2000" in the Netherlands.

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