Winners 2018

Irène Schweizer

Winner Swiss Grand Award for music 2018

Irène Schweizer © Julien Gremaud

Irène Schweizer, who was born in Schaffhausen in 1941, is a leading female pianist in modern jazz. Brilliant and entirely self-taught, she has amassed an oeuvre that is beyond compare. Besides concert performances around the globe, she has released ground-breaking albums, both on her own and in duos with Pierre Favre, Joey Baron and others. She has been a standard-bearer for women in European music, for example with Les Diaboliques, and co-founded the Taktlos festival and the jazz label Intakt Records. She plays like no other, with impeccable skill and perfect clarity, her charisma creating a unique musical signature.

Irene Schweizer

Noldi Alder

Noldi Alder, who was born in Urnäsch in 1953, is one of folk music’s great innovators. A former member of the legendary band Alderbuebe, he has been experimenting with folk, classical and new sounds since 1996 as a composer, arranger, violinist, dulcimer player and natural yodeller. He has blazed his own unique trail between rigid convention and lively modernity in ground-breaking groups such as Das Neue Original Appenzeller Streichmusik Projekt (The New Original Appenzell String Music Project), in films such as “Echoes of Home” and as a field researcher, opera composer and improviser.

Noldi Alder

Dieter Ammann

Born in Aarau in 1962, musician Dieter Ammann leads a double life. In his jazz-funk guise with Donkey Kong’s Multi Scream, he improvises at dazzling speed on bass, trumpet and keyboards. As a composer, he writes at the very slowest of tempos, creating complex pieces rich in detail. His orchestral work “Core – Turn – Boost” at the 2011 Lucerne Festival was a major international success. Bursting with pulsating energy and sonic creativity, his works deliver a profoundly physical listening experience that is very rare in new music.

Dieter Ammann

Basil Anliker aka Baze

Baze, a.k.a. Basil Anliker, was born in Bern in 1980 and is a veteran of the Swiss rap scene. In the dialect of Mani Matter, his strong voice and vivid lyrics tell stories of people on the edge, abrasive and yet also poignant. Baze is a member of various bands (Chlyklass, Boys on Pills, Temple of Speed and others) but is better known for his solo output, including his 2010 album “D’Party isch vrbi” (The Party’s Over) and especially 2017’s “Bruchstück” (Fragment), in which he breaks free from the shackles of rap. Drawing inspiration from the madness of everyday existence, he is a melancholy philosopher of life and death, a meticulous observer and a razor-sharp lyricist.

Baze

Pierre Audétat

Pierre Audétat, who born in Lausanne in 1968, is a musician of many talents. He brings a highly inventive spirit to a very broad range of musical trends, be it as a pioneer of live sampling with Silent Majority, a jazz pianist appearing alongside such greats as Erik Truffaz, a club musician, or one half of the successful duo Stade with Christophe Calpini. From developing a visualisation of modes and scales at IRCAM Paris to creating witty audiovisual collages out of amateur videos on his Odeta.TV channel, this innovative artist is always on the lookout for his next challenge.

Pierre Audétat

Laure Betris aka Kassette

Kassette, a.k.a Laure Betris, is constantly reinventing herself. Born in Fribourg in 1981, she was already touring Europe with the girl group Skirt at the age of 16. Ten years later, she released the solo album “Chamber 4”, the first of four to date. Besides many collaborations as guitarist, pianist and singer with Gustav, Aurélie Emery and others, she made a bold shift in 2016 with the electro-world trio Horizon Liquide and also joined Geneva-based psychedelic rock band H E X. At once a fiercely independent musician and a brilliant team player, she never stops exploring new frontiers.

Kassette

Sylvie Courvoisier

Sylvie Courvoisier was born in Lausanne in 1968 and is now an outstanding jazz musician. A pianist, improviser and leading light of New York’s Downtown scene for 20 years, she plays together with artists such as John Zorn, Mark Feldman and Ikue Mori, leads various jazz groups (including a trio with Kenny Wollesen and Drew Gress) and writes for concerts, plays and the avant-garde flamenco dancer Israel Galván. Her combination of brilliant technique, playfulness, sheer power and boundless imagination in both performing and composing has won her numerous awards.

Sylvie Courvoisier

Jacques Demierre

Born in Geneva in 1954, Jacques Demierre is one of Switzerland’s leading musical personalities in many areas. As a pianist, he has developed a tonal language that is as sensitive as it is eruptive, often taking on a noise-like quality, for example on “One Is Land”. As a free improviser, he performs with all manner of groups and plays a pivotal role in a still-young scene. Demierre is also an avid composer and has enjoyed success with free-form works like “Thirty Pianos” and “No Alarming Interstice”. As a sound poet, meanwhile, he collaborates with Vincent Barras to conjure up a radical poésie sonore of spoken word and rhythm.

Jacques Demierre

Ganesh Geymeier

Ganesh Geymeier, who was born in Lausanne in 1984, is among the most sought-after saxophonists of his generation. Far removed from any kind of stereotype, he coaxes powerful, earthy tones from his instrument, usually a tenor saxophone, always giving them as much time as they need to unfold. He works with electronics and has toured with many projects, including Bad Resolution with Christophe Calpini and his new trio Ganesh Geymeier Trio. His inspiration comes from as far away as South Africa and India, and he produces also beautiful photographs and videos.

Ganesh Geymeier

Marcello Giuliani

Marcello Giuliani was born in Vevey in 1966. He is an influential bassist and producer with a particularly acute ear. Equally at home in jazz fusion and pop, he was a founder member of the Erik Truffaz Quartet, helping to shape its style, and has also performed with a host of famous names such as Françoise Hardy, Henri Salvador and Jane Birkin. His infallible instinct for quality is similarly in evidence as a producer of promising Swiss talent, from The Young Gods to Sophie Hunger, Faber and more. This versatile musician’s sphere of influence extends far beyond the borders of Switzerland.

Marcello Giuliani

Thomas Kessler

Born in Zurich in 1937, Thomas Kessler is one of the great pioneers of electronic music. He has written many remarkable compositions (including the “Control” series), led the Electronic Studio Basel to international acclaim, and founded the Zurich New Music Days together with Gérard Zinsstag. Kessler continues to produce new and thoroughly surprising works. In “NGH WHT”, he takes the words of Saul Williams and merges rap with a contemporary string quartet, while “UTOPIA” has every member of an orchestra controlling their own sound with a laptop. Kessler is a ground-breaking, politically charged musician.

Thomas Kessler

Mondrian Ensemble

The Mondrian Ensemble has been captivating audiences for almost 20 years with a bold mix of the classic and the new. The hard-working quartet builds bridges between eras, styles and genres from Bach to Liszt and Feldman, constantly confronting listeners with new and surprising combinations. Contemporary music is very important to the four, who have had works written for them by such exponents as Dieter Ammann, Roland Moser and Jürg Frey. Bursting with ideas and exacting in its standards, the ensemble has found its own unique place on the Swiss scene.

Mondrian Ensemble

Luca Pianca

Luca Pianca was born in Lugano in 1958 and is among Switzerland’s greatest performers of early music. The lutenist was trained by Nikolaus Harnoncourt before co-founding the renowned Baroque orchestra Il Giardino Armonico (The Harmonic Garden), he has been conducting Bach’s complete Cantates at the Vienna Concert House and is collaborating with the Concentus Musicus Wien in Vienna. Luca Pianca also performs Bach and Vivaldi’s complete works for lute as a soloist. The diversity and quality of his output are also evident in his work as part of a duo with the gambist Vittorio Ghielmi, in his sensitive accompaniments (e.g. for Cecilia Bartoli) and in his excursions into rock and new music.

Luca Pianca

Linnéa Racine aka Evelinn Trouble

Evelinn Trouble, born Linnéa Racine in Zurich in 1989, is a musician with an exceptional voice and an explosive personality. Having toured with Sophie Hunger and provided guest vocals for the rapper Stress in the past, she has long since begun to write for herself – in her own words, “psychedelia in all its forms” – and garnered international acclaim for her last two albums “The Great Big Heavy” and “Arrowhead”. She performs her complex songs with a primal energy, visceral and yet at the same time tender. Too radical for the mainstream, she blasts through the boundaries of the small world that is Swiss pop.

Evelinn Trouble

Willi Valotti

Accordion player and composer Willi Valotti was born in Wattwil in 1949. He has been a member of the legendary band Alderbuebe for decades and played a key role in shaping the contemporary folk style of Central Switzerland, for example with Kapelle Heirassa. He has broadened the horizons of Swiss folk music with harmonically complex yodelling songs and accordion compositions that are very popular among young musicians and is also a leading expert in and researcher of natural yodelling. A multitalented virtuoso, he has no interest in crossovers for their own sake but is always very open to other musical styles.

Willi Valotti