The Swiss Ambassador’s Award is a annual accolade given to a talented Swiss-based classical musician or ensemble that provides a platform from which artistic projects and collaborations between the UK and Switzerland can flourish.
Since 1997, the award recipients have toured the UK on a joint cultural / trade mission with the Swiss Ambassador and this year is the award’s 21st anniversary. Supported by the Swiss Cultural Fund UK and the Swiss arts council Pro Helvetia, the musicians receive a monetary grant, as well as a platform to perform to audiences comprised of the political, diplomatic and business community as well as the general public. The tour kicks off on 15th October in Edinburgh then heads to Cardiff on the 16th, later going on to London, Belfast and Manchester.
The aim of the award is to connect with local communities across the UK, with the concerts providing a setting to bring local political and business leaders into the Swiss cultural network. The winners of this year’s award, Orion String Trio, are a group comprised of highly talented musicians: South Korean violinist Soyoung Yoon, German violist Veit Hertenstein and British cellist Benjamin Gregor-Smith.
Orion String Trio play by heart and have found that without the physical barrier of music stands they feel more spontaneous with their playing and achieve a greater connection with the audience which leads to a more intense and impassioned performance. The concert program is as diverse as the Trio, featuring composers from Hungary, Switzerland, Germany and Austria. Each year the award tour also features a modern Swiss composition; this year a Thomas Demenga piece, Palindromania, will receive its UK premiere. Demenga’s work is characterised by a confrontation of different historical eras and styles of interpretation and composition.