Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Music/Sound 2018

Sylvie Courvoisier

Black and white portrait of Sylvie Courvoisier wearing dark framed glasses and long dark curly hair that fall on her front.
Photo © Mario Del Curto.
  • 2018 Grants to Artists
  • Music/Sound
  • Pianist, Composer, Improviser
  • Born 1968, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Lives in Brooklyn, NY
  • Additional Information

The funds from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award assisted me in repairing my piano; paying from my trio tours with Kenny Wollesen and Drew Gress in South America and Europe; funding my Trio CD promotion and publicity; creating a video and production for my new project Cast-A-Net with Israel Galvan, Evan Parker, Mark Feldman and Ikue Mori; and it helped me pay for much needed house and music studio repairs.

- Sylvie Courvoisier, December 7, 2018

Artist Statement

As a pianist and composer, I combine contemporary composition with open improvisation. I am balancing the electricity of free improvisation with the structuralism of written composition. I integrate prepared piano with non-prepared piano while weaving together lyricism and noise, jazz and classical, and electronic and acoustic. I work with and against the contrast of these sounds.

- December 2017


Sylvie Courvoisier is a pianist, composer, and improviser. She has led multiple groups and has been commissioned to write music for concerts, radio, dance, and theater. Courvoisier has recorded nine albums as a bandleader, 25 as a co-leader, and 25 as a side-person, notably on ECM, Tzadik, and Intakt Records. She has toured widely across the United States, Australia, Canada, Europe, and Japan.

Courvoisier regularly performs solo, in duo with Mark Feldman, and as the leader of the Sylvie Courvoisier Trio, which includes Kenny Wollesen and Drew Gress. She is a co-leader of the Miller's Tale quartet with Mark Feldman, Ikue Mori, and Evan Parker, and has been a member of Mephista with Ikue Mori and Susie Ibarra since 2000. 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 a pianist and composer for flamenco dancer Israel Galvan's project La Curva in more than 150 performances around the world. In 2018, Galvan and Courvoisier will debut Cast-A-Net, a new project with Mark Feldman, Ikue Mori, and Evan Parker, and are developing a duo version of Consagrazion for piano and dance to debut in 2019.

Courvoisier has performed and recorded with Tim Berne, Joey Baron, Ellery Eskelin, Fred Frith, Yusef Lateef, Ingrid Laubrock, Joëlle Léandre, Butch Morris, Tony Oxley, Herb Robertson, Wadada Leo Smith, and Tomazs Stanko, among others. Her albums include the Sylvie Courvoisier Trio's D'Agala (Intakt, 2018); Crop Circles (Relative Pitch Records, 2017), a duo with Mary Halvorson; Miller's Tale's Miller's Tale (Intakt, 2016); and Salt Task (Relative Pitch Records, 2016), a collective trio with Chris Corsano and Nate Wooley.

Courvoisier is the recipient of the FOUNDATION SUISA Jazz Prize (2017); Chamber Music America's New Jazz Works (2016); a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant (2013); and Switzerland's Grand Prix de la Fondation Vaudoise de la Culture (2010). She received a B.A. from Gymnase du Bugnon, and attended the Conservatoire de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland.

A figure clad in black with long dark brown curly hair behind a piano reaches towards the strings and dampers inside the open lid of the instrument.

Performance still from a Sylvie Courvoisier Trio concert at Theatre 2.21, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2014. Photo © Veronique Hoegger.

A person dressed in black behind a piano reaches towards its interior, a mircophone placed right in front of them. Behind her at the left a person with their side towards the viewer plays a violin. Both figures are reflected upside down on the right of the photograph on a glistering surface.

Performance still from a duo concert with Mark Feldman at Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2012. Photo © Mario Del Curto.

Sylvie Courvoisier Trio, FCA-supported performance of Bourgeois's Spider, at Jazz Club Moods, Zurich, Switzerland, 2018. Performers: Sylvie Courvoisier, piano; Drew Gress, bass; Kenny Wollesen, drums.

Black and white photograph of three performers on stage with multiple lights from the ceiling shining on them. On the left side a sitted figure with long curly hair plays the piano and on the righta person with a dress hat and polka dot button up plays the drums, in the middle of the two a person with glasses and a striped button up plays a body size string instrument.

Performance still of the Sylvie Courvoisier Trio at the International Jazz Festival Saalfelden, Saalfelden, Switzerland, 2014. Performers: Sylvie Courvoisier, Drew Gress, and Kenny Wollesen. Photo by Schindelbeck.

A black and white grainy photograph of a figure with long curly hair sitting profile to the viewer in front of a piano - playing.

Performance still from the International Jazz Festival Saalfelden, Saalfelden, Switzerland, 2014. Photo by Schindelbeck.

Excerpt from “Double Windsor,” from the Sylvie Courvoisier Trio's Double Windsor (Tzadik, 2014).

Solo performance at the Schaffhauser Jazz Festival, Shaffhausen, Switzerland, 2013. Video © Schaffhauser Jazz Festival.

Excerpt from "For Alice," from a duo concert with Mark Feldman at Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, 2012.