Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A new Swiss record - 508 alphorn players

Now here's a bit of Swiss history in the making. It might not be life changing but if you ever get the chance to assist an Alphorn concert be sure to appreciate this piece of authentic Swiss tradition.

On August 18th a group of more than 500 alphorn players gathered on the Gornergrat ridge near Zermatt to achieve the world record for the largest ever alphorn group performance.

Against the spectacular backdrop of the Matterhorn and 28 other peaks above 4,000 metres, 508 musicians from Switzerland and abroad dressed in traditional Swiss costume played a specially composed piece by Gilbert Kolly on Saturday.

The gathering of alphorn players beat the previous 2009 record in the same place by 142 participants. A group of 26 flag throwers provided visual entertainment for the event.

Among the challenges facing organisers was trying to find a spot where the conductor could be seen by all the musicians. Some players also had difficulty with their breathing at such a high altitude. Gornergrat is 3,089 metres above sea level.

The alphorn's use varied between the 16th and 20th centuries. Some herdsmen used it as a tool to communicate across neighbouring Alps and to call their cows back to the farm for milking. It was also played on summer nights in the Alps as a form of prayer in Protestant regions.

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