Sylvie Courvoisier is a pianist, composer and improviser.
Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, Courvoisier moved to New York in 1998 and
has lived in Brooklyn since that time.
Courvoisier has led multiple groups over the years and has recorded 8 albums as a band leader
and 50 albums (25 as a co-leader and 25 as a side-person) for different labels, notably ECM, Tzadik and Intakt Records.
She has been commissioned to write music for concerts, radio, dance and theater.
Since 1996, she has been touring widely with her own groups and as a side person in USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe.
Courvoisier has performed and recorded with John Zorn, Mark Feldman, Yusef Lateef, Ikue Mori, Tony Oxley, Mary Halvorson,
Ingrid Laubrock, Tim Berne, Joey Baron, Joëlle Léandre, Herb Robertson, Butch Morris, Evan Parker, Ellery Eskelin, Fred Frith, Nate Wooley, Tomazs Stanko,
Susie Ibarra, Wadada Leo Smith and the flamenco dancer Israel Galvan among others.
download biography (PDF)
download biography in French (PDF)
download short biography (PDF)
Since 1998 Courvoisier has performed regularly SOLO and in DUO with Mark Feldman.
Currently, she is the leader of her own TRIO with Kenny Wollesen and Drew Gress.
Courvoisier is a co-leader of the Miller's Tale QUARTET with Evan Parker, Ikue Mori and Mark Feldman.
Since 2000, she has been a member of Mephista, an improvising collective trio with Ikue Mori and Susie Ibarra.
Courvoisier regularly performs in a number of John Zorn's groups and compositional projects including Cobra and the Bagatelle Marathon.
Since 2010, she has been working as a pianist and composer for flamenco dancer Israel Galvan's project "LA CURVA" with more than 150 performances around the world.
Galvan and Courvoisier are working on a new project called CAST-A-NET with Evan Parker, Mark Feldman and Ikue Mori which will debut in the summer of 2018.
Her most recent albums include her trio D'AGALA on Intakt (2018) with Kenny Wollesen and Drew Gress;
her duo with Mary Halvorson CROP CIRCLES on Relative Pitch Records (2017);
MILLER'S TALE, a collective quartet with Mark Feldman, Ikue Mori, and Evan Parker on Intakt (2016);
and SALT TASK a collective trio with Chris Corsano and Nate Wooley on Relative Pitch Records (2016).
* Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artist Awards (2018))
* SUISA's Jazz Prize (2017)
* Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Commissioning grant (2016)
* New York Foundation for the Arts Composition Fellowship (2013)
* Switzerland's Grand Prix de la Fondation Vaudoise de la Culture (2010)
* Switzerland's Prix des jeunes créateurs(1996)
CROP CIRCLES Sylvie Courvoisier, Mary Halvorson (Relative Pitch 2017)
MILLER'S TALE with Sylvie Courvoisier, Evan Parker, Mark Feldman, Ikue Mori(Intakt 2016)
DOUBLE WINDSOR Sylvie Courvoisier TRIO with Kenny Wollesen and Drew Gress(Tzadik 2014)
BIRDIES FOR LULU
Sylvie Courvoisier-Mark Feldman QUARTET (Intakt 2014)
EITHER OR ANDSylvie Courvoisier-Evan Parker DUO (Relative Pitch 2014)
LIVE AT THEATRE VIDY-LAUSANNE-
Sylvie Courvoisier - Mark Feldman DUO (Intakt 2013)
CLAWS & WINGS Erik Friedlander - Ikue Mori - Sylvie Courvoisier (2013)
HOTEL DU NORD Sylvie Courvoisier Mark Feldman Quartet (Intakt 2011)
TO FLY TO STEAL Sylvie Courvoisier Mark Feldman Quartet (Intakt 2010)
OBLIVIA Mark Feldman & Sylvie Courvoisier- (Tzadik 2010)
DICTEE/LIBER NOVUS John Zorn(Tzadik 2010)
FEMINA John Zorn (Tzadik 2009)
AS SOON AS POSSIBLE Courtois, Courvoisier & Eskelin ( Cam Jazz 2008)
EVERY SO OFTEN Ellery Eskelin & Sylvie Courvoisier ( Prime Source 2008)
SIGNS AND EPIGRAMS Sylvie Courvoisier solo (Tzadik2007)
LONELYVILLE Sylvie Courvoisier Quintet with Mori, Feldman, Courtois, Cleaver (Intakt 2008)
REAL ABERATION Herb Robertson -NY Downtown Allstars-(clean Feed 2007)
MALPHAS Mark Feldman & Sylvie Courvoisier, music of John Zorn-Book of Angels- (Tzadik 2006)
ABATON –Sylvie Courvoisier Trio feat. Feldman, Friedlander (ECM Records, 2cd 2004
MASADA RECITAL Sylvie Courvoisier &
Mark Feldman , music of John Zorn (Tzadik 2004)
- Mephista (Courvoisier, Mori, Ibarra) (Tzadik 2004)
DEUX PIANOS- Sylvie Courvoisier , Jacques Demierre (Intakt, 2000)
MUSIC FOR BARREL ORGAN, PIANO, TUBA, BASS AND PERCUSSION Sylvie Courvoisier Ocre (Enja, 1997)
| Awards include « ...That her music is as aesthetically beautiful as it is strange and mysterious is only further testament to her prowess as a composer. That this trio plays her music as if it has been creating it from the air is nothing short of remarkable. Abaton is Courvoisier's crowning achievement thus far, and this group points her firmly forward in a direction where everything is still possible, demonstrating that there is something new under the sun in classical music and improvisation. Perhaps Abaton is the great moment of 2003 for new classical music
Thom Jurek, All Music Guide
Ms. Courvoisier's pieces measured out their points and counterpoint...Brief, judicious bits of melody and texture -- a high sustained violin note, some plinks inside the piano, a throbbing cello melody -- were passed around, compared, shared in a tumultuous crescendo and then retired to quiet solitude.
Ms. Courvoisier's compositions, from her new album ''Abaton'' (ECM), were more austere but full of pensive drama... let each instrument have its say, from brief question-answer phrases to arching, angst-filled melodies. Often Ms. Courvoisier's piano was a calm referee between high-tension outbursts from the strings. The music was suffused with a restless anxiety that kept every moment suspenseful.
By JON PARELES, New York Times
« ... For this opening event, which lasted less than an hour, the brilliant jazz and contemporary music violinist Mark Feldman joined the adventurous Swiss-born pianist Sylvie Courvoisier for their versions, most lasting roughly five minutes.
This duo did seem to adhere, generally, to the jazz model, in that the pieces began with a written-out Zorn bagatelle, then shifted to extended developments of the musical materials and concluded with, more or less, a repetition of the initial bagatelle. The first one started with sputtered, curt piano chords to which the violin replied with toccatalike bursts of spiraling notes.
The music unfolded in staggered phrases.
Soon the performers took off in what seemed intense, improvisatory episodes, including eerie piano sounds when Ms. Courvoisier scraped and slapped the strings with her hands....
In every piece, these dynamic, fearless performers eventually broke into frenzied episodes that sounded anything but trifling. Yet the cheers from the audience were just as enthusiastic after the most mellow bagatelle, music run through with an almost obsessively repetitive lapping bass riff in the piano and jazzy ruminations on the violin.
By ANTHONY TOMMASINI JULY 6, 2015 New York Times
« Courvoisier's playing is jaw-dropping at times, and there's an extended passage that features her working both inside and on the keyboard of the piano interacting with Rainey and the others in subtle combinations, and working up to a terrifying free jazz piano freakout that could make a person faint!
Michael Anton Parker, 2005
"Galvan n'est pas seul sur le plateau, même si sa folle solitude y explose. Il est encadré par une table et un piano. D'un côté, une famille recomposée prend place avec la chanteuse flamenca Inès Bacan et son "écuyer du rythme", Bobote, auxquels vient se joindre Galvan en fils spirituel attentif. De l'autre, une femme jeune et aventureuse, la pianiste Sylvie Courvoisier, s'arrime à son instrument pour en faire crépiter les touches, claquer les cordes dans une partition sauvage et sophistiquée. .."
Le Monde, 17.01.2012
« This highly original and new music has it all: razor-sharp edges, sounds of a thousand dancing needles, thundering power arising from deeply yawning chasms, mystic fluorescence throughout, calmness combined with a mysterious kind of moving»
Henning Bolte, 5/2007
« …Dans un autre pays que la Suisse, elle serait adulée comme une des plus importantes plumes musicales de son temps. Elle recevrait tous les prix envisageables, n'aurait plus à se faire du souci pour les trente années à venir. Mais elle a décidé de vivre outre-Atlantique. Elle est notre ambassade, mieux que quiconque.... »
Arnaud Robert, Le Temps, 2005