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.
In 2019, Claudia was commissioned to write for the NCH- Sounding the Feminists Commissioning Scheme 2019 and was 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.
Claudia writes and tours her own works regularly, whilst also featuring on numerous recordings and collaborations with a range of cross-genre artists including Seamie O'Dowd, Cathy Jordan and Brian McDonagh (Dervish), Seanan Brennan and Dee Armstrong (Kíla), Austrian string-trio Netnakisum, Matija Solce (Ethno in Transit), Nick Roth (Yurodny), Duke Special, Pt. Sukhdev Prasad Mishra, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Colin Dunne, Padraig Meehan, Nina Hynes, Niwel Tsumbu, Kate Young, Sligo-based bands This Side Up, Catmelodeon and Túcan, and many more.
Currently she 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.
Her 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. 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), Cairde Sligo Arts Festival (IRE), 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.
Photo C Peter Crann
Cairo Jazz Festival
Hubert Von Goisern Förderpreis 2020
Cáceres Irish Fleadh - photo c Antonio Martín
Claudia Schwab Quartet at Folk.Art Festival 2019, photo c Madeleine Marie
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.
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 where she found out about voice leading, the circle of fifths and counterpoint. She briefly studied violin at the Johann Josef Fuchs Conservatory and had her first experience of being part of a production at the Opera House Graz.
As part of the Schweizerorchester and the Jugendochester Frohnleiten, the international YMISO orchestra, the Perchtholdsdorfer Jugendorchester and the gymnasium's orchestra, she enjoyed trips to Egypt, Germany, Italy, Hungary and Slovenia.
During her teenage years, her involvement with classical music slowly started to move into the background as her growing interest in jazz improvisation, Eastern European, Irish traditional and Austrian folk music took center stage. Under the guidance of Inge and 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 and had her first experiences of teaching folk.
In 2005, her love for Irish traditional music brought about an accidental emigration to Ireland: in her newly found home of Sligo, she was lucky to meet musicians like 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. Intending to stay for a year, Claudia was unable to part from the lands of jigs and reels, fireside sessions, laughs and good “craic” and still resides in the town of Sligo in the Wild West until the present day...
In 2008, a burning curiosity to explore new countries and cultures saw her hit the road again. On the advice of a friend, she packed her rucksack and her fiddle and took off to travel around India for a few months. This trip proved to be inspiring in so many ways, initiating the practice of Northern Indian Classical music with violinist Pt. Sukhdev Prasad Mishra, as well as a deeper exploration of her own musical language. This started to more firmly form itself during her years at University College Cork (2009 -2013). On her return to Ireland, not knowing what exactly she signed up for in this faraway internet cafe in Varanasi that time, she started her undergraduate degree at UCC. Landing on her feet with truly excellent lecturers such as John Godfrey or Mel Mercier, she enrolled in loop, experimental and minimal composition classes, which 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, she started to perform her own music in Ireland and Slovenia in 2011 and 2012 as a solo act as well as in duo and trio formation.
In 2012, Claudia completed her BA in music and psychology at UCC, 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 released their first joint album "Hoamweh" ("homesick").
In the same year, Claudia released her debut solo album Amber Sands and formed a band with Swedish percussionist Stefan Hedborg and Estonian bassist Marti Tärn. She met the two musicians through the yearly 'Etno Histeria' gatherings in the Istrian countryside that she started to frequent in 2012. Indeed, these gatherings sparked off several connections to musicians from all over the world that she would later work with. Following on from the Irish launch tour of Amber Sands, the trio performed in Austria, Slovenia, Estonia, Bavaria and Ireland, including shows at the Imagine Arts festival Waterford (IRE), the Viljandi Pärimusmuusika festival (EST), the UCC FUAIM festival (IRE), Sligo Live festival (IRE) and Emonska Promenada (SLO). Before the release of her second album, and accompanying EP, "Attic Mornings", in 2017, the trio transformed to its current quartet formation featuring English accordionist/singer and clog dancer Hannah James.
Next to her feature on many diverse cross-cultural collaborations and recordings, she currently performs with her quartet, as a solo act, with Pluirín na mBan, the Irish Gamelan Orchestra, german trumpet player Matthias Schriefl, Hannah James and the Craic Addicts.
Session at Foleys/Sligo
DIVAS for DVAS at the Model/Sligo, photo c Ciara Finan
Claudia Schwab Trio @ Loikuspidu festival Viljandi
Joey's Ba-Rock Ensemble
Claudia Schwab Quartet at De Barras, Clonakilty Photo c Louise Barker
With Netnakisum in Moldova