Winner 2021

Stephan Eicher, Schweizer Musikpreis 2021
Stephan Eicher
© Benoit Peverelli

Stephan Eicher – cosmopolitan chansonnier

Winner Schweizer Grand Prix Musik 2020

Stephan Eicher is the Grand Seigneur among European chansonniers. Music was always a family affair for the Eichers: Stephan was born in 1960 and raised in Münchenbuchsee near Bern, his father introduced him to music at an early age. He attended the F+F School of Art and Design in Zurich, acquiring the recording and composition techniques which he put to good use with his first synth-punk band, the Noise Boys, at the end of the ‘70s. This was followed by an intense two-year ride on the New German Wave with his brother Martin Eicher and the band Grauzone: the timeless song "Eisbär" (1981) was to propel Grauzone and Stephan Eicher to sudden fame in the German-speaking world. His "Chansons Bleues" (1983) marked the start of an incomparable solo career as a cosmopolitan rock and pop chansonnier. He has since captivated a large audience at home and abroad with his unmistakable voice and his songs in French, English, German, Italian and Swiss-German dialect. His songs are musical trains of thought, a window on his inner world: He has mused over his homeland as a place of memory and longing (e.g. "Engelberg"), set lyrics by Philippe Dijan and Martin Suter to music ("Song Book"), and explored his Yenish roots in the 2017 documentary "Unerhört Jenisch". In 2009, the City of Zurich awarded him the Kunstpreis. Stephan Eicher has always been committed to furthering the younger generation of Swiss musicians. In 2020, he celebrated the 40th anniversary of his career at the Culture and Convention Centre Lucerne (KKL) in the company of companions old and new, including Sophie Hunger, Tinu Heiniger and the Helvetic Balkan brass band Traktorkestar.

Alexandre Babel – boundless innovator

As a percussionist, composer and curator, Alexandre Babel stretches the boundaries of New Music. Born in Geneva in 1980, he studied in his hometown and in New York City. Today he is considered a reference in the interpretation of the 20th and 21st century repertoire, and in the experimental music scene. His innovative projects break through the boundaries of musical convention, confounding listener expectations in the conquest of new contexts. Alexandre Babel is a founding member of the performance collective Radial and the duo White Zero Corp. He also plays solo percussion for the chamber music ensemble Neue Musik Berlin. He has been the artistic director of the contemporary percussion collective Eklekto since 2013 and has worked with a great many bands and artists, among which Joke Lanz’s noise nock band Sudden Infant. His compositions have been performed at renowned contemporary music festivals, including the Festival Archipel in Geneva, the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio, and the 2020 Festival Les Amplitudes in La Chaux-de-Fonds. He passes on his extensive knowledge lecturing at the Berlin University of the Arts, the Conservatoire de musique de Genève and Melbourne University in particular.

Chiara Banchini – world-renowned baroque specialist

Born in Lugano in 1946, Chiara Banchini is one of the great interpreters of baroque music. After completing her studies with Corrado Romano at the Conservatoire de Musique in Geneva, where she graduated with the Prix de virtuosité, she pursued her soloist studies in The Hague. Her acquaintance with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Sigiswald Kuijken fired her enthusiasm for baroque and historical performance arts. At the same time, she performed with the Ensemble Contrechamps, and worked as a composer of contemporary music. In 1981, Chiara Bianchini founded Ensemble 415, which is regarded as one of the references and most prestigious European groups for 17th-18th century repertoire, releasing numerous award-winning recordings of original historical instruments until 2012. As a baroque violinist, conductor, and lecturer, she has worked with renowned orchestras, including the Theresia Orchestra, La Chappelle Royale and the Camerata Bern. She also taught at the Centre de musique ancienne in Geneva and, until 2010, at the Schola Cantorum in Basel.

Yilian Cañizares – radiant world musician

With her charismatic lightness of being, violinist, composer, and singer Yilian Cañizares blends Afro-Cuban rhythms, jazz, and classical music to create a global sound that transmits a message of love, freedom, and unity. Born in Havana in 1983, she was awarded a violin scholarship in Caracas at the age of 14 and went on to pursue her classical training at the conservatory in Freiburg. After discovering jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli and finding her own voice, Yilian Cañizares developed her distinctive musical identity. In 2008, she joined forces with Cuban pianist Abel Marcel, Venezuelan contrabass David Brito, and Swiss percussionist Cyril Régamey to found Ochumare, an ensemble carried by Creole groove, violin improvisations, and her enchanting vocals in French, Spanish and Yoruba. The quartet won the Montreux Jazz Festival Competition that same year. The world musician, who has made Lausanne her home, has shared the stage with numerous orchestras, ensembles, and luminaries of world music, including Ibrahim Maalouf, Chucho Valdés, or Omar Sosa. "Aguas" (2018), the album recorded with jazz pianist Omar Sosa, combines the perspectives of two generations of Cuban musicians. In 2019, she released "Erzulie", an album named after the Haitian goddess of love and freedom

Viviane Chassot – brilliant ambassador for the accordion

Viviane Chassot (born 1979, in Zurich), the Basel-based accordionist, appreciates the classical masters from J.S.Bach to Joseph Haydn as much as she does the latest music by Helena Winkelman or Stefan Wirth: they are all part of her repertoire which crosses the stylistic boundaries of musical genres from classical to jazz, and world to improvisation. With her sensitive, fresh, and controlled playing, the multi-faceted musician enthuses a wide audience for a classical niche instrument that possesses a sonority rich in nuance. Furthered from the age of 12 by Ernst Kaelin and Gérard Fahr, she studied with Teodoro Anzellotti at the Bern University of the Arts, graduating in 2006 with a teaching and concert diploma. Between 2009 and 2013, as a freelance musician, she attended numerous master classes in Leipzig, including with András Schiff and Alfred Brendel. She has performed as a soloist and chamber musician in renowned concert halls and festivals worldwide. In 2015, she was awarded the Swiss Ambassador's Award in London. Viviane Chassot was the first accordionist to be signed to the Sony Classical label.  Her arrangements for the accordion of W.A. Mozart's piano concertos, which she recorded with the Camerata Bern in 2019, earned her a nomination for the International Classical Music Award the same year. In October 2020, she released "Pure Bach", an album of arrangements of solo works by J.S. Bach.

Tom Gabriel Fischer – metal music pioneer

Born in Zurich in 1963, singer and guitarist Tom Gabriel Fischer, aka Tom Gabriel Warrior, is known for his strong fighting spirit. He founded the extreme metal trio Hellhammer at the age of 18. That was his music school. The metal musician with a wealth of radical ideas would soon attract the attention of the Zurich underground scene. After the EP release of "Apocalyptic Raids" (1984), Tom Gabriel Fischer broke up Hellhammer, paving the way for the meteoric rise of Celtic Frost, the heavy metal band he founded soon after. This legendary band inspired musicians worldwide, in and beyond the metal scene, among them Nirvana, the Foo Fighters and Marilyn Manson, to name but a few. In seven ground-breaking albums (especially "Into the Pandemonium", 1987), Celtic Frost introduced, among other things, classical instruments into their sound cosmos and blew up genre boundaries with extreme playing styles and vocal techniques (e.g. growling), style breaks and eclectic fusion. The band’s lyrics were inspired by the symbolist writings of Charles Baudelaire and the fantastic horror literature of H.P. Lovecraft, while H.R. Giger, the Swiss surrealist, put his artistic imprint on the cover of "To Mega Therion" (1985).  In 2019, Tom Gabriel Fischer completed a three-part Requiem for Celtic Frost with his current doom-metal band Triptykon. The work for orchestra and band is dedicated to Celtic Frost founding member Martin Stricker aka Martin Eric Ain, who died in 2017.

Jürg Frey – composer of quiet

The Aargau composer Jürg Frey (* 1953) writes contemplative music that achieves its harmonious effect as much from silence as it does from sound. After his studies at the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève, he first pursued a career as a clarinetist. However, composition was soon to take centre stage: a poet of sound, Jürg Frey paints quiet tonal landscapes, meandering through open forms suspended in poetic weightlessness. "WEN", a cycle of 59 solo pieces, reveals the alphabet of his artistic language in exemplary fashion.
Jürg Frey has worked with the Mondrian Ensemble, the Quatuor Bozzini and the performance collective Die Maulwerker. He has also lectured at numerous universities, including the Berlin University of the Arts and the California Institute of the Arts. Jürg Frey has received numerous commissions and invitations, including to the Centre Culturel Suisse in Paris and as Composer in Residence at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival in 2015. His highly acclaimed orchestral work "Elemental Realities" premiered at the Donaueschinger Musiktage in 2019. Jürg Frey is a member of the Wandelweiser network of composers, formed in 1992, and its eponymous publishing house. He also initiated the concert series Moments Musicaux Aarau as a forum for new music. 

Lionel Friedli – inspirational drummer

Lionel Friedli, who lives in Biel, is one of the most sought-after jazz drummers of the new generation. Born in Moutier in 1975, he studied with Norbert Pfammatter from the age of eleven, first at the conservatory in Biel, then at the Lucerne Academy of Music. A jazz musician with a pronounced taste for the experimental, he combines the power of rock with the free-spiritedness of jazz in his inspirational drum-playing, enriching countless music projects. Lionel Friedli has performed with the likes of Lucien Dubuis, Vera Kappeler, and Colin Vallon. He was a member of Christy Doran's New Bag, and of the formation Elgar with Hans Koch and Flo Stoffner. With Vincent Membreze, he has formed the drum and synth duo Qoniak since 2005. Their album "Mutatio" (Hummus Records), released in 2020, creates a futurist technoid form of music with infinite pull using drums, old synthesizers, jazz, sci-fi and 8.Bit. In 2015, he was awarded the Jazz Prize of Fondation Suisa for his creative and innovative work.

Louis Jucker – creative all-rounder with a sense of community

Ubiquitous and creative, Louis Jucker – singer, songwriter, theatre musician, producer and curator of events – is an indispensable part of the Swiss musical scene. Born in 1987, in La Chaux-de-Fonds, he studied architecture before building up his multifarious do-it-yourself activities as a practicing "full-time punk musician". As the powerful voice and frontman of the mathcore band Coilguns, he has toured all of Europe and beyond. He composes theatre music and poetic folk songs for himself and his growing entourage of artists; tinkers with his homemade instruments and special recording techniques, and works on cross-disciplinary projects with visual artist Augustin Rebetez and actors Joël Maillard and Camille Mermet, among others. In 2015, he received an invitation to the Cité internationale des arts in Paris. In autumn 2020, he published his musical self-portrait ("Something went wrong"), a retrospective of the first 30 years of his life and career. Louis Jucker is a founding member of the Hummus Records label and the Indago association – a production platform interconnecting artists across genres through workshops, recordings and performances. He is currently working on the fourth edition of “some of the missing ones”, a participative festival scheduled for 22 - 24 May in Freiburg im Üechtland.

Christine Lauterburg – sparkling yodel rebel

Christine Lauterburg transposes the music of the Swiss alps into urban music. Born in Bern in 1956, her studies at the Bern Schauspielschule paved the way for her to the theatre and film. In the documentary film "Alpenglühn" (1987), she played a young actress with a passion for yodel who breaks out of the traditional corset of competitive yodelling festivals. This role became her own story: away from the camera, the young Schwyzerörgeli-playing yodeller attended singing courses and studied folksong. In 1991, she released her first album "Schynige Platte". Three years later, in collaboration with the film and music producer Cyrill Schläpfer, she recorded the album "Echo der Zeit". Her mix of yodelling and techno was hailed by music critics as a "milestone of Swiss pop music” but was also the subject of controversial debate.  To this day, Christine Lauterburg carries New Folk Music out into the world. In her performances as a soloist or with various groups such as Doppelbock, Landstreichmusik and Aërope, she surpirses audiences with innovative accompaniments on the violin, the thaler or the buechel.  She still also participates in stage productions.

Roland Moser – musical alchemist

With his never-ending thirst for discovery, Roland Moser, born in Bern in 1943, explores new tonal systems, the Romantic era, and the dialogue between sound and language. Like an alchemist playing with sounds, he develops novel techniques that unveil new acoustic phenomena: In his solo piece "Sehr mit Bassstimme sanft" 2012, he released undiscovered polyphonies from the massive sound chamber of the double bass. One of his formative experiences was the performance of Igor Stravinsky’s "Threni" in 1958 directed by the composer himself. Under Theo Hirsbrunner he studied the works of Arnold Schönberg and Anton Webern. And he refined his tonal expression with Sándor Veress. From 1966 to 1969, his studies led him to Wolfgang Fortner at the Musikhochschule in Freiburg im Breisgau and to the Studio for Electronic Music in Cologne. Roland Moser taught music theory and composition at the Winterthur Conservatory, and later at the Basel Music Academy. His extensive Oeuvre includes refined solo pieces, chamber music, and large-scale operas. He lives with his wife, cellist Käthi Gohl Moser, in Allschwil near Basel.

Roli Mosimann – music producer with a golden ear for rock

As a music producer, Roli Mosimann has left his mark like no other on electronic studio technology. Born in Canton Thurgau in 1955, he relocated to New York in the early ‘80s.  As the drummer of the industrial no-wave band Swans he tackled the technical innovations that were gaining hold in recording studios with computer sequencers and midi.  The first album he produced, "Infected" (1986), for the British band The The, gave his work the seal of quality; from then on, he had the trust of renowned rock and metal bands the likes of New Order and Celtic Frost.  In addition to their first single "Envoyé!", he produced four studio albums for The Young Gods, the Swiss industrial pioneers.  More recently, he participated in releases by Phall Fatale and Fredy Studer. Between 1998 and 2012, he developed a new live sound concept "Realtime Audio Deconstruction" for Jojo Mayer's band Nerve. Today, Roli Mosimann lives in Poland, in Wroclaw, where is responsible for the live mixing of the Eklektik Sessions. In 2020, he was awarded the "Golden Ear Award" by the international festival Soundedit for his pioneering work in music production.

Conrad Steinmann – flutist and archeologist of sound

Conrad Steinmann was born in 1951, in Rapperswil. In his work with the recorder and the aulos, in his compositions, and through his global network as the organiser of the International Recorder Days, he explores music from anitquity to the present day. After studying the recorder with Hans-Martin Linde, he taught at the Zurich Music Academy from 1975-1982. In 1982, he was appointed lecturer at the Schola Cantorum in Basel. Alongside a long-standing collaboration with Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the Zurich Opera, the award-winning musician has engaged in intensive archaeological and instrumental research on ancient Greek music. In collaboration with instrument maker Paul J. Reichlin, he has reconstructed ancient Greek musical instruments which served as the basis for his series of compositions of "imagined music from the 5th and 6th centuries BC”. His concert performances have taken him to Europe, Asia, and South America as a soloist, with the flute quartet diferencias, the Melpolmen Ensemble, and others. In 2016, he was awarded the Zollikon Art Prize. He has written several books; his most recent, "Nachklänge: Instrumente der griechischen Klassik und ihre Musik”, a comprehensive study of the instruments and music of Ancient Greece, was published in February 2021.

Manuel Troller – ground-breaking guitarist

Born in 1986, and raised in Lucerne, Manuel Troller is a versatile innovator of the electric guitar.  He experiments with preparations, extended techniques, and sound alienation, and possesses an infallible sense for the musical moment. He studied at the Lucerne Music Academy with Frank Möbus, Christy Doran and Fred Frith. He joined the band Schnellertollermeier alongside drummer David Meier and bassist Andi Schnellmann in 2006; since then, he has been playing and composing power-charged compositions combining minimal music with improvisation extending even to psychedelic rock music. In addition to his collaboration with Nik Bärtsch's Ronin or the improvisation trio Tree Ear, he has a long-standing association with drummer Julian Sartorius and author Michael Fehr, both from Bern. In 2019, he was invited to the Taktlos Festival 2019 in Zurich as artist in residence and curator. That same year, his highly acclaimed solo debut "Vanishing Points" was released on Three: Four Records. Manuel Troller is currently working on his second solo album and on a project for the stage at the Gessnerallee with director Corsin Gaudenz.

Nils Wogram – grooving jazz trombonist

Composer and jazz trombonist Nils Wogram is a visionary, ground-breaking bandleader. Born in Braunschweig in 1972, he started his training in classical music and jazz on the trombone when he was 15. Only one year later he was admitted to the Bundesjugendjazzorchester. From 1992 to 1994 he studied in New York City, and then graduated from the Musikhochschule Cologne with a soloist diploma. He composes profound, multi-layered pieces that underscore and expand the strengths of his co-musicians in his many and long-standing band projects, including Root 70, the Nostalgia Trio, and the Vertigo Trombone Quartet. In 2010, he founded his own label NWOG Records. In 2020, his first solo album "Bright Lights" was released. His latest chamber music formation, Muse, is expected to make its début in autumn 2021. Nils Wogram lives in Zurich and has been lecturing in jazz studies at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Lucerne since 2004.  

Specialist staff
Last modification 08.06.2021

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