Claudia Schwab is an award- winning originally Austrian fiddle player, singer and composer who lives and works in Ireland. Described as 'one of the most creative artists on the Irish music scene today' (Dr. Mel Mercier- Irish World Academy Limerick), Claudia amalgamates different traditions and styles, such as traditional Austrian, Irish, Classical Indian and Eastern European folk music, in her own, very unique way.
Her debut solo album Amber Sands was released in April 2014. A regular feature on Irish national radio it received a variety of reviews by magazines such as FATEA (“pretty much unforgettable”), Folkworld (“she makes Yodel music modern and happening”), Songlines and Roots (“crazy and yet strangely attractive”). In October 2016 she released her first EP Attic Mornings EP (special edition on vinyl) followed by her second full album Attic Mornings in 2017.
Claudia's musical journeys have brought her to to India, Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey, Ukraine, US, UK, Estonia, Sweden, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Moldova, Tchech Republik, Austria, Ireland, Spain, Germany and Switzerland, as part of orchestras and bands as well as touring her own solo project (Quartet, Solo). Notable performances have included appearances at the Cairo Jazz Festival (EGY), Electric Picnic Festival (IRE), the International Gamelan Festival Solo (IDN), Cacéres Irish Fleadh (ESP), Rudolstadt World Music Festival (DE), Fleadh TV (IRE), Body & Soul Festival (IRE), Shrewsbury Folk Festival (UK), Glatt & Verkehrt Festival (AT), folkArt Festival (AT), the Button Factory (IRE), Vicar Street (IRE), Sargfabrik Vienna (AT) and Moldova Ethno Jazz Festival.
Alongside her own solo project (Solo & Quartet), Claudia has performed on numerous recordings and collaborated with a range of cross-genre artists both established and emerging. Past performances have included collaborations with Austrian string-trio Netnakisum, Seamie O'Dowd, Cathy Jordan and Brian McDonagh (Dervish), Seanan Brennan and Dee Armstrong (Kíla), Matija Solce (Ethno in Transit), Nick Roth (Yurodny), Duke Special, Pt. Sukhdev Prasad Mishra, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Colin Dunne, Padraig Meehan (Those Nervous Animals) Nina Hynes, Niwel Tsumbu and Éamonn Cagney (Treelan), Kate Young, Sofia Hoegstadius, Sligo-based bands This Side Up, Catmelodeon and Túcan. Claudia currently performs with the Claudia Schwab Quartet, accordionist/clog dancer and singer Hannah James, jazz trumpetist Matthias Schriefl, Plúirín na mBan (feat. Cathy Jordan & Irene Buckley), the Irish Gamelan Orchestra and Sligo-based band The Craic Addicts.
In 2019, she has been commissioned to write for the NCH- Sounding the Feminists Commissioning Scheme 2019 and has been awarded a Next Generation Bursary Award from the Irish Arts Council (2019), the Neuer Deutscher Jazzpreis 2019 with the Band “Shreefpunk + Strings”, followed by the Hubert Von Goisern Förderpreis in 2020.
Growing up under the roof of her two fiddle- playing parents in a small town in Austria, music was a central and fundamental part of Claudia´s life from childhood on. At the tender age of three, she took up a three stringed fiddle and started to jam along with radio, LPs, orchestral music, and with her family.
At the age of five she finally received her first violin lesson from her mum. Soon after that she enrolled in piano, singing and recorder lessons at the music school next door with Angelika Schwab-Orel, Barbara Herzog-Drewes, Bernadette Schmutz, Christian Klöckl, Martina Stadler, Franz Herzog, Mario Rösler and Miriam Ahrer.
Over the years she performed the roles of first violinist in the Jugendorchester Frohnleiten and the Joey‘s Ba- Rock Ensemble, leader of the second violins in the Schweizerorchester Frohnleiten and was involved with the music school’s vocal ensemble and various choirs.
Somewhere in-between she also had a short affair with the trumpet and hip- hop dancing.
From the age of 10 to 19 she frequented the Musikgymnasium Dreihackengasse in Graz/ Austria where she found out about voice leading, the circle of fifths and counterpoint, and gave her first tutorials in ear training. She briefly studied violin at the Johann Josef Fuchs Conservatory with Karl Vogt and had her first experience of being part of a production at the Opera House Graz.
As part of the Schweizerorchester, the international YMISO orchestra, the Perchtholdsdorfer Jugendorchester and groups of the Musikgymnasium, she enjoyed trips to Egypt, California, Germany, Italy, Hungary and Slovenia.
The initial classical training formed the main part of her music making for many years. During her time at the Musikgymnasium however, Claudia started to become interested in jazz improvisation, Eastern European folk and Irish trad, musics that were played at folk festivals around the area, and got swept away with the Styrian folk music revival. Under the guidance of Inge, Hermann Härtel Senior and their children, she learnt how to yodel, dance and play polkas at legendary events such as the annual "Geigentag" in Stattegg or the "Musikwoche" in Johnsbach. She had her first go at playing the fiddle and singing at the same time with Hermann Härtel Senior and collected her first experiences of teaching folk music.
In 2005, she accidentally emigrated to Ireland to learn some Irish traditional tunes. In her newly found second home of Sligo, she was lucky to meet Rodney Lancashire and Paul McMahon, whom she learned tunes off and played sessions with for the following few years, becoming deeply immersed in the town's vibrant Irish traditional music scene. In 2008 she took a trip to India where she started to study North Indian Classical Music with violinist Pt. Sukhdev Prasad Mishra and wrote her first compositions for violin and voice.
In 2009, Claudia enrolled in an undergraduate arts degree in music and psychology at University College Cork. Classes in loop, experimental and minimal composition, along with the practice of North Indian Classical music, experiments with the loop pedal and her discovery of Julia Cameron's "Artist's Way" lead to an ever increasing repertoire of her own music.
Next to her concerts with the Irish Band Túcan, whom she performed with at festivals around Ireland, first public performances of her own music followed early in 2011 and 2012 in Ireland and Slovenia as both a solo act and together with college mates, with percussionist Eamonn Cagney, guitarist/vocalist Fergal O'Connor and fiddle player Kathryn Döhner ("Ants on Glass").
In the summer of 2011, Claudia met the group Ethno in Transit, whom she took
workshops with in Austria and thus was introduced to, and became part of, the international platform of "Ethno" musicians. Scottish fiddle player Kate Young, whom Claudia studied the technique of "chopping" with, introduced Claudia to the concept of "fiddle-singing", putting a name on what Claudia had been practicing in her own music and encouraging her to explore it further. A few years later, the two fiddle players started to work together and the rhythm section of the band "Ethno in Transit" (Marti Tärn & Stefan Hedborg) became part of Claudia's own project.
In 2012, Claudia completed her BA in music and psychology at UCC achieving first class honours, followed by a sponsored masters degree in ethnomusicology which she completed in 2013. During her time at UCC she was awarded the 2nd prize in the H.H. Dr. Steward Literary Scholarship in Italian based on her final exam results in 2010, the ´Doc Gleeson prize´ 2011 based on her end- of year performance in 2010, a CCE scholarship for students of traditional Irish music, a world music travel scholarship, the title of ´College Scholar´ 2012 and an MA Fee waiver scholarship.
In 2013, Claudia stepped into the world of full-time professional musicianship and, after first collaborations in 2012, started to work with Austrian string trio Netnakisum. Together with her childhood friends deeLinde and Marie-Theres Härtel, she enjoyed tours in Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Moldova, Ireland, Italy and Slovenia. In 2014 they recorded their first album together: "Hoamweh" ("homesick").
Alongside her own solo project, which she performs both as a solo act and with her quartet (regular band members feature Marti Tärn and Hannah James), she is currently working with the Irish Gamelan Orchestra, Pluirín na mBan, german trumpet player Matthias Schriefl, Hannah James and the Craic Addicts.
Her debut solo album "Amber Sands" was released in spring 2014, followed by her first EP "Attic Mornings EP" (special edition on vinyl) in October 2016 and her second full album "Attic Mornings" in February 2017.
Photo C Peter Crann
Joey's Ba-Rock Ensemble
Session at Foleys/Sligo
@ Grand Social, Dublin
Etno Histeria, Slovenia
With Netnakisum in Moldova
Hubert Von Goisern Förderpreis 2020
Claudia Schwab Quartet, Photo c Louise Barker