Swiss Theatre Awards

Les Petits Chanteurs à la Gueule de Bois

Schweizer Kleinkunstpreis 2018

Les Petits Chanteurs à la Gueule de Bois

Musical spectacles

Les Petits Chanteurs à la Gueule de Bois came together some fifteen years ago in the mountains of Neuchâtel. Behind the name are three passionate musicians: Lionel Aebischer, Frédéric Erard and Raphaël Pedroli. Lionel Aebischer, who was born in Le Locle in 1977, is the group’s multi-instrumentalist. He writes the lyrics and plays the accordion, harmonium, guitar, banjo and charrango. Aebischer studied the clarinet in La Chaux-de-Fonds, took lessons in improvisation and specialised in contemporary music. As well as teaching at the Ecole Jurassienne et Conservatoire de Musique he is involved in numerous music projects around the world. Frédéric Erard, who was born in Le Locle in 1978, sings and plays the bass and double bass. He trained as a stonemason and structural engineering draughtsman, but took piano lessons as a child and taught himself the bass. Raphaël Pedroli, who was born in Neuchâtel in 1978, plays the drums and percussion and also sings. He studied drumming at the Swiss Jazz School in Bern. After spending time in New York he made numerous appearances at Swiss music festivals.

Les Petits Chanteurs à la Gueule de Bois’ love of wordplay is evident from their name: an amusing variation on the traditional French boys’ choir Les Petits Chanteurs à la Croix de Bois, it also references an idiomatic French expression for a hangover.

No sign of sore heads here, though: this is an act that performs humorous, fresh and irresistibly honest chansons about the little things in life. Their performances are musical spectacles that blend music and theatre in skilful arrangements and witty stagings. Each work tells a new story that draws the audience into a different world in miniature. The trio’s love of performing is obvious, as is their delight at the universe they have created. They have produced five albums and created five evening programmes since 2008, which they take on tour mainly to French-speaking countries. “Chansons douces et autres vers d’oreille”, their musical spectacle for young audiences, is equally popular with adults.

«A trio of cheery musicians whisk us away into their world of poetry, dark humour and refreshing irreverence. The words and music are original; their muse has clearly been hard at work. In the grand tradition of Les Frères Jacques, Les Charlots and Les Nonnes Troppo, PCGB bring a touch of class to a popular musical genre: the song with intelligent and humorous lyrics. Thank you, Lionel Aebischer, Frédéric Erard and Raphaël Pedroli for serving up so much joy and so many keen insights into our world.

And to any curmudgeon who points out that “gueule de bois” means “hangover”, may we recommend the Michelada: a cocktail of lime, Tabasco, beer and Worcester sauce that’s guaranteed to ease the sorest head.»

Thierry Luisier, jury member
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