Winner 2022

© Helen Sobiralski

Yello - Pioneers of electronic pop

Winner Schweizer Grand Prix Musik 2022

Initially formed as an electro-pop trio in Zurich in the late 70’s, from its fourth album – in a series of fourteen studio albums altogether up to “Point” in 2020 – the group has solidified into a duo around the figures of Boris Blank and Dieter Meier. In a highly efficient division of labour, Blank sees to the musical component, adopting a forward-looking approach with respect to the use of sampling and the personalisation of synthetic sounds. Meier for his part brings his own lyrics, the deep voice of the frontman, and the visual concepts that make Yello a surreal explosion of eccentricity. The result is already history: Yello they gifted us tracks like “The Race“ and “Oh yeah“ which took Swiss music to as-yet unseen heights in the international charts, managed to maintain a careful and always original production over the years, resisted on principle the numerous temptations of live performance (with almost mythical exceptions, such as the 1983 concert at the Roxy in New York or the four sold-out nights at the Kraftwerk in Berlin in 2016), always knowing how to benefit from the process of digitalisation in music culture.

How not to agree with electronic guru Carl Craig, who designated them "human legends" in 2019?

Swiss music prizes

Orchestre Tout Puissant Marcel Duchamp - Collective rhythmic dadaism

Founded in Geneva in 2006 – at the initiative of double bass player and cultural activist Vincent Bertholet – the Orchestre Tout Puissant Marcel Duchamp is a musical collective of variable geometry comprising between ten and fourteen instrumentalists engaged in an original crossover of free jazz, post-punk, experimental music, West African grooves, minimalistic approaches, progressive virtuosity, brass band sound and symphonic accents. A superimposing of the poetical and the esthetical that may seem incredible, but is somehow already contained in the group’s disorienting name which simultaneously references one of the most conceptual western artists and the pompous epithets of orchestras from Congo to Benin. The OTPMD is the acoustic transposition of a multicultural Geneva, young, ironic, slightly bohemian, but politically committed.

Over the course of five album releases, the last of which “We’re Okay. But we’re lost anyway” in 2021, it has managed to successfully carry across Europe an image of Swiss music that few would have expected. The OTPMD is “the story of an orchestra without a chamber, of a sensitive battalion with unlimited generosity, of a wild form that has never needed a director to tame its own imagination and determination”.

Fritz Hauser - The high priest of percussion

Born in Basel in 1953, Fritz Hauser is a drummer, percussionist, composer, improviser, ideator of interdisciplinary projects bringing together architecture, theatre and dance, and an author of music for films and installations. In this multilateral approach to musical creation, the salient feature may be the coherency that runs through all of Hauser’s productions, marked by precision, gestural minimalism, and a near-priestly purity which translate into a magical stage presence.

He has written compositions for percussion ensembles and soloists, chamber orchestras and choirs; created sound installations for places such as the Thermal Baths of Vals, the Museum of Architecture in Basel, Castel di Burio in Piedmont, the Kunsthaus Zug, the Fondation Vincent van Gogh in Arles and Zurich University; initiated interdisciplinary projects with lighting designer Brigitte Dubach, director Barbara Frey, architect Boa Baumann and choreographers such as Kinsun Chan, Joachim Schloemer, Heddy Maalem and Anna Huber.

These transversal experiences have been condensed into his last album “Spettro”, produced in 2021, defined a “necromancy for percussion”. He was awarded the Culture Prize of the City of Basel in 2012, and the Culture Prize for Music of Basel-Landschaft in 1996. In 2018, he was resident composer at the Lucerne Festival.

Arthur Hnatek - In the heart beat of electro-acoustic rhythmics

Arthur Hnatek, drummer, composer and electronic artist, was born in Geneva in 1990. Possessing a rare overview of contemporary music, his aesthetic horizon encompasses traditional American jazz, electronic culture and folk music as well as composition in the strictest sense of the term: he has composed works for orchestras, string quartets, chamber ensembles, big bands and small groups.
He has worked with some of the most significant contemporary artists – Tigran Hamasyan, Erik Truffaz, Manu Delago, Shai Maestro, Gilad Hekselman, Dhafer Youssef, Donny McCaslin, Linda May Han Oh, Vincent Peirani, Grégoire Maret and Sophie Hunger, to name just a few. He has directed projects under his own name, but also by the moniker Melismetiq, SWIMS and with the Arthur Hnatek Trio.

These works evidence his in-depth exploration of the percussive dimension, merging live electronics and live drumming, linking and tying in with the electroacoustic rhythmic cultures of the ‘90s. His recent album “Static” – released as the Arthur Hnatek Trio and highly praised by international critics – is a celebration of electronic culture in a jazz trio context. In 2019, he was awarded the ZKB Jazzpreis at Moods in Zurich, the city where he now lives.

Simone Keller - Multi-dimensional piano

Simone Keller, a classical pianist by training but with a transversal and interdisciplinary outlook, was born in Weinfelden, in the canton of Thurgau, in 1980. As an artist and performer, she feels at home in contemporary music, musical theatre, improvisation, and in experimental and participatory formats. A tireless initiator of musical projects, her ensembles are true frameworks for the exploration of contemporary sound: the Kukuruz Quartet (which researches in spectacular fashion the potential of prepared pianos played by eight hands), the TZARA Ensemble (which works between contemporary music and mediation) and the Retro Disco trio (with horn, cello and synthesisers). She is a regular guest of ensembles such as Collegium Novum Zürich, Ensemble Contrechamps Geneva and Glassfarm Ensemble New York.

In 2014, in collaboration with director Philip Bartels she set up the ox&öl collective, which organises projects in the field of experimental musical theatre and participatory awareness programmes focusing on diversity and inclusion: this pioneering educational work was awarded the Junge Ohren Prize in Frankfurt in 2017 and recognised by the Culture Office of the Canton of Zurich. Simone Keller was also awarded the 2021 Conrad Ferdinand Meyer Prize.

Daniel Ott - Living music in new forms

A mobile stage drawn by horses crossing Switzerland: that is the surprising image at the outset of one of the most exciting artistic adventures of recent years, that of Daniel Ott. Born in 1960 in Grub, in the canton of Appenzell, after training as a classical pianist Daniel Ott embarked on an unusual path between composition, musical theatre, interdisciplinarity and the ideation of new forms of musical expression and its presentation. He has worked, among others, for Stuttgart State Opera, Bielefeld Theatre, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Expo Hannover, Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, Alpentöne Festival in Altdorf, at the Rhine harbour in Basel and the Wittener Tage für neue Kam­mermusik. Since 2005, he has taught composition and experimental music theatre at the Berlin University of the Arts; he became a member of the Berlin Academy of Arts in 2015, and has been artistic director of the Munich Biennale – Festival for New Music Theatre, together with Manos Tsangaris since 2016. In 1990, he created the visionary Festival Neue Musik Rümlingen in the canton of Basel-Landschaft focusing both on new music and the forms for its presentation. In 2021, he realised the “Seestück'' project for this festival, associating the figure of Robert Walser with his own Appenzeller roots.

Ripperton - Techno house guru

Raphaël "Ripperton" Gros, who is among the most creative Swiss producers in the techno and house genres, was born in Lausanne in 1976 and started work as a DJ in 1993. In his nearly three decade-long career, he has released five albums ("Niwa" in 2010, "Lost In Colors" in 2011, "A Little Part of Shade" in 2013, "Sight Seeing" in 2018 and "Contrails" in 2019) for renowned labels such as Green or ESP institute as well as various singles on Border Community, Wagon Repair and the legendary Carl Craig’s Planet E. A tireless initiator of creative collaborations – with Mirko Loko (as Lazy Fat People) and Deetron (as Roots Panorama), as well as with Tobias, DJ Koze, Isolée, Alex & Stephane Attias – he has also produced successful remixes for Laurent Garnier, Radiohead, Beanfield, Jimi Jules and Joris Voorn.

Over the years, he has launched record labels of his own (Perspectiv Records, Tamed Musiq) that have contributed to introducing various talents of the Swiss electronic scene to the international stage. In September 2021, in further proof of his commitment as talent scout and promoter, he released the EP "Hey Kid" with Lausanne-based producer Claudya (aka Masaya). He is regularly invited to perform in Asia, Australia, and America, and is especially appreciated for his deep, melodic, and sensual productions.

Marina Viotti - A uniting voice

Marina Viotti is an extraordinary mezzo soprano; she performs on the biggest international stages yet does not disdain smaller and alternative institutions and venues. Born into a family of musicians in Lausanne in 1986, she studied the flute as a teenager before focusing on singing jazz, gospel and heavy metal. A thirst for discovery and knowledge led her to study philosophy and literature before devoting herself intensively to opera singing. After her stage débuts in Lausanne, Lucerne, Geneva and Zurich, she was invited to perform at some of the most important opera houses in Europe – the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Liceu in Barcelona, the operas of Dresden and Munich, the Opéra du Rhin and the Arena in Verona. She possesses a rare technical and interpretative versatility and seems at ease with a variety of repertoires of very different styles and eras. It is no coincidence that she is one of the very few opera singers to offer recitals – of surprising creativity and originality – that include cabaret, jazz, chanson française and American singer-songwriter-rock: “I like to sing different things: the different types of music cross-fertilise each other, create bridges, open minds, connect people, genres and cultures. That is something we very much need.”

Special prizes for music

AMR - Geneva - The heartbeat of improvisation

Created in Geneva in 1993, AMR – Association pour l’encouragement de la Musique impRovisée – is unique in the Swiss and international landscape: nowhere else on earth will you find a club, rehearsal rooms and a collective workshop for jazz and improvisation classes under a single roof. It is precisely for these genres of music that AMR has become a point of reference on a communal and cantonal level, and also making a name for itself nationally and internationally: among its many guests, we might mention Charlie Mingus, Archie Shepp and Carla Bley. Every year, the association schedules over 200 concerts and organises two festivals (one free-admission open air at the Parc des Cropettes at the end of June, and the other in spring with admission fees) and it offers 45 weekly workshops for orchestral music and other courses.

The organisation has been structured as an association for nearly 50 years, consisting of a committee and about 1000 members of the association. About half the members of the association are active musicians themselves, all employees of AMR are either musicians or music students. The ratio of differences in salaries between the lowest and highest salaries are balanced and fair.

A microcosm of culture, equity, exchange, and growth.

Daniel «Duex» Fontana - The genius booker from Düdingen

Not many festivals are sold out on the first day they publish their programme, but that is exactly what happens, and has been happening for years, with the Bad Bonn Kilbi. Daniel Fontana, a cultural activist born in 1966 in Fribourg, started this incredible adventure, which is all the more incredible when you realise that the venue – a rare and authentic space for live music – is located far from urban centres, in Düdingen, in the midst of the Fribourg countryside. Not only did Daniel Fontana create the venue, maintaining a warm and friendly atmosphere inviting everyone, he created a festival that would soon become an authentic part of Swiss music history. He brought huge names from the international alternative and underground music scene to the Kilbi, juxtaposing them with Swiss bands in an astonishingly natural way. Daniel Fontana’s contribution to music in Switzerland has been fundamental. He commands enormous respect, in keeping with the course he has charted over the years: willpower, sincerity, modesty and professionalism – qualities that should underpin every musical endeavour. That international stars like Sonic Youth or Queens of the Stone Age have played in the fields of Düdingen is also due to the esteem Daniel Fontana and his team have earned over the years through their work.

Folk music collection Hanny Christen (Publishing House Mülirad) - A treasure trove of folk music

At the beginning there was Hanny Christen (1899 -1976), a researcher of local history and a collector of folk music from Basel-Landschaft. Between 1940 and 1960, Hanny Christen travelled across Switzerland several times, she met many musicians and copied their collections of dances, thus giving life to an exceptional archive of 11,874 melodies from the 19th and 20th centuries and from all parts of Switzerland, which she collected in 435 files. This huge repertory work fell into oblivion until Zurich musician and publisher Fabian Müller (winner of a Swiss Music Prize 2016) heard about it in 1992. He put together a team of volunteer researchers who studied and classified the material over ten years – without any institutional support – and finally published it with Mülirad-Verlag in 2002. The ten-volume collection has made one of the greatest treasures of popular music from the alpine region available to the public, giving traditional Swiss folk music an incredible impetus – especially to new popular music – which is still ongoing today. The Hanny Christen folk music collection has been the standard reference for the creation of popular music in all parts of Switzerland for over twenty years.

Specialist staff
Last modification 10.05.2022

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