Winner 2024

Schwarz-weiss Aufnahme von Sol Gabetta, welche ihr Cello hält und lächelnd in die Kamera schaut.
Sol Gabetta
© Julia Wesely

Sol Gabetta - A world-class cellist

Winner Swiss Grand Award for Music 2024

Cellist Sol Gabetta is one of today’s most celebrated and successful cellists. Originally from Argentina, she studied at the Hochschule für Musik in Basel. She has lived for many years in Olsberg in the canton of Aargau, where she has directed the Solsberg Chamber Music Festival since it was founded in 2006.

Born in 1981, Gabetta’s international breakthrough came in 2004, when she received the Credit Suisse Young Artist Award. This honour was linked to her concert debut with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Lucerne Festival. Since then, Gabetta has performed as a much sought-after soloist with the most renowned orchestras and stars such as Cecilia Bartoli.

In addition to the well-known cello literature by Vivaldi, Elgar and Beethoven, Sol Gabetta regularly performs new works at concerts and on numerous CD releases — for example in a duo with PatriciaKopatchinskaja, winner of the Swiss Grand Award for Music 2017. For many years, she presented the “KlickKlack” programme on Bavarian radio, bringing her passion for classical music to a wide audience. She has also been teaching a the Musik-Akademie Basel since 2005.

In addition to numerous other awards, Sol Gabetta was honoured with the European Culture Prize in 2022 for outstanding achievements. Sol Gabetta recently released the CD “Mendelssohn” (2024) in collaboration with the pianist Bertrand Chamayou.

Swiss music prizes

Ivo Antognini - Multifaceted composer of choral music

Born in 1963, Ivo Antognini is one of the most influential composers of contemporary choral music. The Ticino native's works are performed by renowned choirs worldwide.

Antognini has been interested in composition since childhood. After studying piano in Lucerne with the pianist Nora Doallo, he continued his training at the Swiss Jazz School in Bern. After completing his studies, Ivo Antognini composed a wide variety of music for film and television and released three jazz albums of his own compositions.

In 2006, Ivo Antognini met the famous Ticino children's and youth choir "Calicantus" and its director Mario Fontana. Since then, Antognini's work has focused on choral music. His compositions are known for their versatility, making them suitable for a wide range of voices and choirs. Antognini's oratorio "A Prayer for Mother Earth" was premiered in May 2016 at Carnegie Hall in New York. In 2023, the renowned Trinity Choir of Cambridge released "Come to me in the silence of the night", a complete album of works by Ivo Antognini.

Ivo Antognini’s choral works have won numerous prizes in national and international competitions. In addition to composing, he also teaches at the Conservatorio della Svizzera italiana in Lugano.


Simone Aubert - Boundless curiosity and a do-it-yourself attitude

Multi-instrumentalist Simone Aubert is an integral part of Switzerland’s experimental music scene. For more than 20 years and hundreds of concerts, the Geneva-born musician has been creating her own unique brand of free music with her various groups. This is characterised by a do-it-yourself attitude that embraces the unclassifiable and explores both the delicate and the brutal.

Simone Aubert’s bands include Hyperculte, Massicot, Tout Bleu and Yalla Miku. For all these groups–which are often associated with the Geneva label Bongo Joe Records – Aubert chooses a self-taught approach and plays a different role each time: sometimes she is on drums, sometimes she plays guitar, sometimes she chooses electronics or she is the centre of attention with her voice as in Tout Bleu. She is always seeking unusual collaborations - for example, in a duet with singer Simone Felber, who also receives a Swiss Music Prize this year.

Simone Aubert's inquisitive, socially and politically committed music is not only known through her bands and her extensive network. Her music can also be heard in dance and theatre performances or in artistic and scientific projects.

Simone Aubert is also co-founder of the Baz'Art festival in Geneva, which takes a multidisciplinary approach to its programming. Here, too, her free approach far removed from genres is evident.


Simone Felber - Yodelling culture now and for the future

Simone Felber is a classically trained mezzo-soprano – and yodeller. Born in Lucerne in 1992, she is one of the most influential voices in contemporary folk music.

While still studying at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU), Felber realised that she wanted to do more than sing classical music. Because, as Simone Felber puts it: "While classical music is all about obtaining a perfect idea of sound, jazz and folk music open up the possibility of finding your own sound."  She took lessons from the well-known yodeller Nadja Räss, sought out exchanges with natural yodellers and developed a highly original brand of folk music.

With her groups such as Simone Felbers iheimisch or the a cappella formation famm, Simone Felber gives a new voice to yodelling and Swiss singing culture. With Echo vom Eierstock, she leads a sensational feminist choir that updates old songs from the male choir tradition with contemporary lyrics. In the duo hedi drescht with jazz pianist Lukas Gernet, Simone Felber writes new yodelling songs that revolve around the question "What is home?". She also seeks experimental exchanges, for example with Simone Aubert, who was also awarded a Swiss Music Prize in 2024. With all her activities, Felber demonstrates the extent to which Swiss folk music can sound modern and emancipated.


Leila Schayegh - Master of early music

Leila Schayegh is a master of early music. As a violinist and researcher, this Winterthur-born resident of Basel brings the works of Baroque music into the contemporary world.

Leila Schayegh first studied classical violin in Basel. Shortly afterwards, she continued her studies with Chiara Banchini – winner of a Swiss Music Prize 2021 – at the Schola Cantorum in Basel. Since then, Leila Schayegh's musical output has been shaped by the historical performance practice of early music. As a soloist and chamber musician, she is now one of the leading figures of the early music world. Her repertoire covers 300 years, an enormous time span that illustrates the diversity of Baroque music. In recent years, Leila Schayegh has expanded her catalogue to include works from the Classical and Romantic eras. In 2018, she recorded the violin sonatas of Johannes Brahms. In 2021, Leila Schayegh published the six sonatas and partitas for solo violin by Johann Sebastian Bach, often considered to be some of the most challenging pieces for a violinist.

Leila Schayegh has been professor of baroque violin at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis since 2010. In this role she is passing on her vast historical knowledge to her students  and emphasising the importance of a personal and independent interpretation of early music.


Tapiwa Svosve - A saxophonist of far-sighted creativity

Born in 1995, Tapiwa Svosve's saxophone playing has made him a key figure in Swiss jazz today. With his bands and projects, the Zurich-born musician challenges the prevailing cultural structures.

Tapiwa Svosve studied jazz at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). In 2017, Svosve's band District Five was awarded the ZKB Jazz Prize. The group does not play jazz in the classical sense but has been experimenting with elements of fusion and electronica from the very beginning. With albums such as "Burnt Sugar" (2022) and "Pause" (2023), District Five has moved further away from jazz and towards psychedelic rock music. In addition to this band, Tapiwa Svosve performs with musicians such as Evelinn Trouble (Swiss Music Prize 2018), American drummer Hamid Drake and accordionist Tizia Zimmermann. With his solo electronic projects, Svosve is constantly seeking new forms of musical expression. In 2023, he recorded the internationally acclaimed album "The Sport of Love" with Asma Maroof and Patrick Belaga. Tapiwa Svosve has worked for Zurich's Schauspielhaus and co-founded the Gamut Kollektiv, which from 2015 onwards energised Zurich's music scene with new concepts and festivals.

With his interdisciplinary and experimental approach, Tapiwa Svosve provides new impulses and challenges our listening behaviour.


Zeal & Ardor - Worldwide success with gospel metal

Basel-based Manuel Gagneux's band mixes black metal and gospel. With this spectacular mix he creates completely new music and enjoys success around the world.

Zeal & Ardor are one of the most famous Swiss acts abroad today. It all started with an experiment: dual Swiss-American citizen Manuel Gagneux asked on an internet forum which musical styles were absolutely necessary to combine. Black metal and gospel were the answer. Manuel Gagneux, who as a musician at the time still called himself Birdmask, experimented with this combination. In 2017, he released the solo album “Devil Is Fine” under the name Zeal & Ardor. This generated much enthusiasm from the international music media, so Gagneux expanded his project into a live band: it includes guitarist and singer Gagneux, who also writes the music, guitarist Tiziano Volante, bassist Lukas Kurmann (successor to Mia Rafaela Dieu), drummer Marco von Allmen and singers Denis Wagner and Marc Obrist. Appearances at important metal festivals such as the Wacken Open Air in northern Germany as well as numerous tours across Europe and the UK, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil followed. The story of this success is told in the 2023 film “Play with the Devil”, which was released in cinemas both in Switzerland and abroad.

With the albums “Stranger Fruit” (2018) and “Zeal & Ardor” (2022), Manuel Gagneux deepens his own innovative metal style. Zeal & Ardor's latest album, "GREIF", which will be released in August 2024, has lost none of this rebellious and restless spirit.


Zimoun - Visual sound poetry in space

Zimoun blurs the boundaries between art and music. In his quiet yet spectacular installations, the Bernese artist creates interactions between visual, auditory and spatial elements.

For his impressive works, which often fill the whole room, Zimoun generally uses recycled everyday materials such as cardboard. Using a variety of motors, he sets them in motion. The power of the mechanics creates unique worlds of sound. Despite their precise and minimalist structure, Zimoun's works radiate an unheard-of wilfulness that can take on a chaotic air.

This combination of visual and sonic elements was already evident in the early 2000s. Back then, Zimoun presented his works at TONUS-MUSIC LABOR (now Orbital Garden) – an experimental venue run by musician Don Li in Bern's Old Town. Since then, Zimoun has exhibited his sound installations worldwide. In 2021, Haus Konstruktiv in Zurich devoted a major solo exhibition to him.

In addition to his installations, which he also sees as musical compositions, Zimoun works purely acoustically too. He creates multi-channel soundsystems that allow listeners to explore a space through sound. The "Dark Matter Series", which has been presented in cultural spaces such as the Rex cinema in Bern, is one of these acoustic works in which the visual component is totally absent.

Special Prizes for Music

smem – swiss museum and center for electronic music instruments - Living archive for electronic music history

The swiss museum and center for electronic music instruments – smem for short – in Fribourg/Freiburg houses one of the world's most important collections of electronic musical instruments. The collection includes around 5,000 devices in a display warehouse. It ranges from synthesizers to effects devices and mixing consoles. With this collection, the smem documents the history of electronic music and makes it accessible to the public thanks to a “Playroom”. In this “Playroom” visitors can discover, play and use valuable historical instruments and equipment from the collection.

The smem is based on the collection of Klemens Niklaus Trenkle, a native of Basel, who collected instruments and devices for 40 years. In 2016, the association running the museum took over the collection and committed itself to cataloguing the objects and making them accessible to the public. The smem has attracted personalities such as the music producer Legowelt or the visionary Colombian musician Lucrecia Dalt.

Institutions like the smem keep the history of music and music production alive with a lot of voluntary work. In addition, it offers musicians the opportunity to continue working with these instruments. In this way the history of electronic music is not only documented, but can also be experienced in the here and now.


Lausanne Underground Film & Music Festival (LUFF) - On the pulse of underground culture

Since 2002, the intrepid LUFF festival has offered the avant-garde an important platform every year and has invited visitors to engage in a fun and challenging exploration of underground culture.

The LUFF is organised by the non-profit organisation Association pour la Promotion de la Culture Independente (APCI). Founded in 2001, it has set itself the goal of offering a platform to artists rarely seen in Switzerland. In the rich history of the LUFF, originally inspired by the New York Underground Film Festival, radical filmmakers such as John Waters and Christoph Schlingensief made their way to Lausanne. The music program, currently under the responsibility of Dimitri Meier and Thibault Walter, also seeks and finds extremes. It presents big personalities like Kim Gordon and Norbert Möslang and also offers a platform for voices like No Home and Dreamcrusher. At LUFF you can experience artists who experimentally explore the wide spectrum of noise, ambient and avant-garde music.

The Swiss Music Prizes honour a festival with international influence which fearlessly raises awareness, year after year, of the radical culture of the underground.


Somatic Rituals - Trailblazing club culture

Somatic Rituals is a collective and label from Basel, consisting of the three producers Kombé, Mafou and Mukuna. With diverse tracks, mixes and DJ sets, the three search for their African roots and use their collective vision to open up new spaces for club culture.

Somatic Rituals founded the joint label in 2017. Their electronic music combines styles such as ambient techno, gqom and house with experimental and personal approaches. For example, Kombé released the EP “Foreign Exchange” in 2023, which mediates between cultures and time periods with great fluidity. Kombé, Mafou and Mukuna were resident DJs for many years at the Basel club Elysia, which is known throughout Europe for its exceptional sound system. Their growing international recognition is reflected in appearances at renowned festivals such as the Atonal in Berlin. Somatic Rituals' mixes can also be heard on online and community radio stations such as NTS from London, TRNSTN from Fribourg/Freiburg or EOS from Frankfurt.

With their music and approach, Somatic Rituals advocate for diversity, inclusion and equality in club culture. With this commitment they show that they are not only musically innovative, but also socially committed and responsible.

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Further information

Specialist staff
Last modification 14.05.2024

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