biography


Christian Zehnder first studied jazz guitar before completing a course of studies in classical baritone singing (with Raphael Laback amongst others). Further training in overtone singing with Tokne Nonaka [J] and bodily vocal techniques in the style of Alfred Wolfsohn with Daniel Prieto (P) led him to a free, non-verbal style of singing and his very own unique musical cosmos, which often touches on the intersection between performance and musical theatre. In 1996, he and wind instrumentalist Balthasar Streiff formed the award-winning and internationally renowned duo Stimmhorn, with which numerous CDs, films and musical theatre performances were realised. Concert tours through the entire world, collaborations with Huun-Hur-Tu, the African overtone choir Xosa-Noquolnquo, Mercan Dede and many others. Various commissioned works for films, TV, World EXPO and radio. In 2012, Christian Zehnder was the recipient of the cultural award of the canton of Basel-Land, Switzerland, in the category of performance and theatre. In 2013, he received a carte blanche for creating a musical evening around his „new space mountain“ with the Berlin Philharmonic.

In his solo projects (Kraah, Gländ, Oloid, et al.) he has worked amongst others with Christoph Marthaler, Barbara Schirmer, Noldi Alder, Don Li, Anton Bruhin, Tobias Preisig, Arkadi Shilkloper, Mathias Loibner, and the Casal Quartet. In collaboration with the latter and Graubünden-based composer Fortunat Frölich, he has ventured into the field of chamber music, or new music. On the occasion of the Munich Biennial 2011, Zehnder sang one of the main roles in the contemporary opera „Amazonas“. Working with cosmopolitan and jazz drummer Gregor Hilbe, Christian Zehnder developed „Oloid“, a performance project with newly developed instruments set between urban and archaic homelands.

Christian Zehnder's multifaceted work includes the fields of jazz, new alpine and contemporary music. He has also worked as a director and composer for theatre (Theater Basel, Salzburger Festspiele, Mannheim, Luzern, Gorki Theater Berlin, and others). In 2012, his creation „oops, wrong planet!“ was performed at Theater Basel. 2014 saw the creation of a first opera, commissioned by Theater Basel: „Föhn“ was created as a collaboration with composer Fortunat Frölich and author Urs Widmer.

Through the ongoing evolution of European overtone singing techniques, Zehnder is widely recognised as one of the most creative and innovative contributors to the scene. In addition to his artistic activities, he has become heavily involved with the development of a pedagogic basis for overtone singing, be it as a lecturer in academia or through his teaching position with choirs and ensembles (including the Oslo Conservatory [N], Musikhochschule Stuttgart [D], Musikhochschule Basel [CH], and others).

His primary interest lies in the creation of pedagogically well-founded teaching materials for overtone singing. In collaboration with the famous Latvian Radio Choir from Riga, such an educational concept is already successfully being developed, allowing the professionally organised choir to successfully perform extraordinary compositions by their contemporaries.